Mar
3

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Pooch Paradise: St. Michael’s Inn At Perry Cabin

Fun fact: Wedding Crashers is one of my husband’s Top 2 favorite movies (I’ll leave you hanging in suspense as to the other…!)  So when narrowing down choices for a laid back, drivable, not-too-far-from-NYC-where-we-can-also-bring-our-dog getaway, I was thrilled when the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michael’s, Maryland popped up.  Why?  Because it’s the gorgeous spot Wedding Crashers was shot, of course!

unnamed unnamed-3I know you’re probably all “do you guys really pick weekend getaways based on your favorite movies?!”  Well, yes and no.  While that was what initially roped us in and got our interest piqued, a few other key items were what sold us.

First off: the inn is pet friendly, and SO friendly to your pets!  (Pet parents will automatically know the importance here!)  While once upon a time I was able to sneak my sweet chihuahua in just about anywhere, in his older age he’s become much more, shall we say, vocal.  If I were to leave him in a strange room for more than a few minutes, his chirping (the cute little noise he makes when he barks, but sounds much more like a chirp!) begins.  Impossible to hide.  Which makes finding properties where we can bring him along, comfortably, a bit of a challenge.

unnamed-7We were chuffed to find out the inn only has you pay $100 pet fee (for the entire stay!), and also treats your pooch like royalty.  I’m talking doggie cookies, bathroom bags, water at your front door, and so many hugs and kisses and scratches throughout the day.  They even had a doggy menu you could order from!  And our own little fenced-in backyard for Gills to go potty romp around!  I’m pretty sure Gillman thought this was a spa vacation just for him.

unnamed-4Besides not having to stress about the comfort of our 14 year old chihuahua (which was huge, as you pet parents will agree), the inn offers lots of other goodies for a relaxing retreat: the essentials, such as a spa, seasonal outdoor pool, delicious restaurant, casual pub, and fitness center, along with nice bonuses such as gorgeous gardens, waterside location, and both complimentary bikes and boat docking.  The town of St. Michael’s is quaint and walkable, full of just enough cafes, boutiques, and antique stores to fill an afternoon stroll.  All this in under a 4 hour drive from NYC.  Kinda perfect, eh?

unnamed-5My favorite part, though?  Sitting by the roaring fireplace in the lobby, playing board games and drinking wine–the ultimate rest and recharge. With little man on my lap, of course.

cn_image_3.size.inn-at-perry-cabin-st-michaels-st-michaels-united-states-104079-4 unnamed-6Have you been on any pet-friendly getaways lately?  Share below!

Mar
2

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2015: The Year Of No Restaurant Repeats (February Edition)

We’re back with the February edition of “no restaurant repeats!”  This month, we did a bit of #travelthroughfood, checking out an amazing Spanish tapas place and a third generation owned French restaurant!

My favorite dining experiences this month tied, with Jean-Georges and The Four Seasons–and my least enjoyable experience was pastries from Dominique Ansel Bakery.  I’d like to think the experience would have been better had it ended in fresh-out-the-oven cronuts?

The budget friendly award goes to 1 Dollar Pizza, cause you can’t get better than a dollar slice in my book.

We’ll see you back at the end of March, but for more foodie adventures, follow us on Instagram!

And share below…what’s the best dish you’ve had lately?!

February 2015

unnamed-1{Le Pain Quotidien: Various Locations // $ // While not quite as popular as Starbucks, you can pretty much find an LPQ in any neighborhood.  The food is healthy and fresh, and I think it’s adorable (and very French) how they serve their coffee out of bowls.}

unnamed-2{Jean-Georges: Columbus Circle // $$$$ // Without a doubt, one of the top 3 dining experiences I’ve ever had in NYC.  The vegetarian tasting menu was out of this world (I finished EVERYTHING), truly deserves a post of its own. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, skip the gift and come here instead–an experience you and your tastebuds will not soon forget.}

unnamed-3{Chez Napoleon: Hell’s Kitchen // $$ // This has long been my favorite “hidden gem” French comfort food restaurant–owned by the most delightful French family, you can expect warm service and the most delicious house-made vinaigrette that you’ve ever tasted–slather it over everything!}

unnamed-4{Bouchon Bakery: Inside the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle // $ // Perfect place to catch your breath after a walk in the park or a morning of shopping–large size vanilla macaroons are my go-to order.}

unnamed-5{Tavern On The Green: Central Park West // $$$ // I always assumed this was a tourist destination so steered clear until recently (it’s where our out of town guests picked, go figure), but was really pleasantly surprised! The food was delicious, and there’s a toasty fireplace you can warm up next to! I got the soup for brunch, but the french toast was clearly the way to go.}

unnamed-6{1 Dollar Pizza: Hell’s Kitchen // $ // Dollar pizza, folks. Love it or you hate it, but I’m SUCH a lover.}

unnamed-7{Nai Tapas Bar: East Village // $$ // Feel like transporting to Spain for the evening? This hole-in-the-wall tapas joint will get you there. Along with the small plates, we were so pleased with the entertainment–live music and gorgeous flamenco dancing, and no cover charge to boot!}

unnamed-8{Dominique Ansel Bakery: Soho // $ // Meh, ok so were got here early in the morning for the cronuts (but nope, not early enough).  After waiting we figured we may as well order something, so we grabbed a few croissants and this Nutella bread.  It was okay, but just okay.  It left me a little confused as to the popularity of the place?}

unnamed-9{Circo: Midtown // $$$ // We stumbled on this circus-themed joint during restaurant week, and while I was impressed with my appetizer (cauliflower flan, now that’s fun!), the main course and dessert course were just so-so.  Because it was Restaurant Week?  Maybe.  But it wiped out any chances of becoming regulars–which I guess is good for this No Restaurant Repeat Challenge!}

unnamed-10{The Four Seasons: Midtown East // $$$$ // Ok, you know how I said before Jean-Georges was one of the three best restaurants I’ve experienced? Well, this is on that list, too!  Seriously, BEST SERVICE I’ve ever received in NYC…not to mention such playful and innovative dishes–besides that cotton candy, I was over-the-moon thrilled with their veggie lunch option (a delightful farro salad) and miniature house-made croissants, still warm from the oven.}

January 2015

unnamed-1{The Modern: Midtown // $$$ // Perfect for a classy date night.  Wear your favorite dress.}

unnamed-5{Bibble & Sip: Midtown // $ // Their  lavender latte is everything you’d ever dream it could be. Small cafe, but nice for catching up with a book or friend…tends to be my post-yoga class spot.}

unnamed-3{Prune: Lower East Side // $$$ // Great for meat lovers–the vibe is leaning towards the side of hipster for a casual, yet pricy, night out.  Probably not the best place if you have any food concerns (gluten-free, vegan), but they will produce this lovely off-menu veggie platter if you ask nicely–you must not be afraid of butter, though.  It’s on the cozy (read: small) side, so claustrophobics need not come.}

unnamed-4{The Bar Room: Upper East Side // $$ // They won me over with peacock wallpapering, and then locked it down with those extra crispy french fries–nice spot for a casual lunch or dinner.  You can also catch the game at the bar.}

unnamed-6{BluePrint: Whole Foods // $ // Well, it’s not a martini on the rocks or anything, but certainly the most efficient way to get in all your leafy greens in one swig. The taste is not nearly as terribly as one must think, promise!}

_________________________________

{please note: this article will be updated monthly throughout 2015 to reflect the best of the best of what we’re noshing + sipping on around town}

Perhaps the #1 question I get from both tourists and locals alike is, “well, where are the BEST places we should we eat?”  Such a personalized question that I truly hate answering because, truth be told, my favorite foods and restaurant vibes are probably going to wildly vary from the ones you enjoy…and I’d hate to steer you down the wrong path!

That being said, I decided to take a new approach on the blog when it comes to documenting real food at real places.  As I may have mentioned to you before, the hubs and I are trying this 2015 no-restaurant repeat year!  Easier said than done, cause we do adore our tried and trues, but we’ve also discovered quite a lot of unexpected gems this year, and it’s only February! 

So my friends, I’ll post a single photo from each meal that we eat out throughout 2015, along with the restaurant link and part of town it’s in, with just a teeny bit of restaurant background…the rest is up to you!  Just remember, the mantra of our site is “best of new york, as used by new yorkers”, so if something is truly awful, it won’t be making the list.  Keeping it real for ya, my friends.

I’ll be updating the page monthly, both for your food porn pleasure and also for some inspiration of where to catch your next date night without being overwhelmed by so many options.  And as always, if there’s a place you’re curious about, leave it in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer your question!

Feb
27

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Learning A New Language: Month 2

Have you guys ever noticed how EVERY treadmill at your gym is completely taken in January, and then around February…crickets. Where did all the people go?!  Creeping away from their New Year’s Resolution, that’s where!  Which is kinda what happened to me this month…

funny-new-years-resolutions-going-to-the-gym-funny-someecards1As you’ll recall, I started January on a super high note with my language learning…I was playing the CD’s, writing daily phrases on our kitchen chalkboard, even texting in the mother tongue!  But then I lost that thing we know is SO essential to turning a resolution into a habit: motivation.

Around mid-month when I really noticed my progress slacking, I asked myself what the problem was (well, besides I just really suck at learning new languages…the struggle is real!)  But more importantly: I find language learning incredibly boring, so would push it back as far as possible into my day, putting other things way in front of it: reading blogs, going to yoga, sweeping the floors…seriously, anything that wasn’t language learning!  And then before I knew it, it was time for bed, and guess what?  No practice for Jess!  I reminded myself of Gretchen Rubin’s magical words of advice:

“Things often get harder before they get easier.”

So here’s what I changed towards the end of the month to address my problem of procrastinating my studies: I set my alarm (and coffee pot timer!) an hour earlier in the morning (I’m a morning person anyway so this wasn’t so terrible), and now study for an hour before my day starts.  This still hasn’t gotten to the point where it’s simple or enjoyable, and I’m not quite sure it will.  But you know what will eventually happen if I keep with it?  I’ll speak Bosnian a little better.

How are you 2015 resolutions/habits coming along?  Feel free to vent in the comments below!;-)  

Feb
26

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Intermission: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

Theater-Curious Incident of the DogThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” has totally captured both critic and audience.  No doubt in anyone’s mind; this is the play to see this Broadway season.  Another “Brit on Broadway” import, and a story of such universal importance and reach . We all relate, its ideas cross borders, it strikes a major chord while playing in a minor key – and hits us in our core.  How often does THAT happen?

This drama perfects what I term the “essential p’s”  -  plot, production and  performance.  All three of these elements magnificently align for a moving, perfect whole in this absorbing drama.  The story in truth is relatively simple – but that is not necessarily the point here.   Nothing better when you arrive home all jazzed up from an evening of theater, and it dawns on you much later why exactly you couldn’t sleep that night.  This show is ripe for discussion; you’ve just got to talk about it.  So thank you Jess for allowing me to get my thoughts out on paper.   

In the case of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, the breath taking pace of today’s technology creatively captures the story line, and indeed this is what captures our minds in addition to our hearts.  In many of the stage scenes, you feel like you have left terra firma, and are inside your computer’s hard drive, observing as well as participating in its inner workings.   Not only do lighting effects and imaginative staging dynamically augment this contemporary story, but in the case of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” it dominates this particular production.  There simply is no other way to tell this tale involving so much motion and emotion – both externally and internally – without pushing the limits of lighting and staging.

Nothing better when you arrive home all jazzed up from an evening of theater, and it dawns on you much later why exactly you couldn’t sleep that night. 

“The Curious Incident of the Dog….” is based on a mesmerizing, successful novel -  written uniquely in the first person singular – of the same title. It centers, literally and figuratively, on an autistic teenager, Christopher Boone – who is indeed a first person singular in every possible way, a beautiful being. He discovers his neighbor’s dead dog one shocking morning, and this provides the backdrop for an intelligent, thrilling, emotional journey..  Christopher is what is termed an “idiot savant” – his particular genius is math, he is a geometrically walking trigonometry table. Math never lies and an innocent like Christopher can only understand truth.  He is disturbed and touched by this dog’s untimely death. So he decides to use complex mathematical formulas (aren’t you slightly jealous of people who can take Pi beyond the usual 3.14 ?!!) and must leave his comfort zone to solve this crime.  Genius as he is in mathematics, Christopher cannot understand simple daily activities and has never traveled by himself, let alone outside his neighborhood.  He lives in his own specialized autistic world with his Father as sole parent, and he is about to cross boundaries and meet people way beyond his small universe.

HINT:  what is essential to the heart and mind is invisible. Doubtful any mathematical equation could be more slight…yet more complex.  From the ordinary to the extraordinary…..with so many stops along the way.  Yet sometimes you have to go in complete circles before you get anywhere. This story of love, family, survival is a complete experience, you feel entirely satisfied, a rich completeness as the curtain drops.  It’s a contemporary catharsis of which ancient Aristotle would mightily approve.  Such pathos, I was searching for my Kleenex.

I reserve solo special raves for Alex Sharp, a recent Juilliard Drama School Grad playing the teenage lead.  He is BEYOND amazing, what an auspicious Broadway debut. Personally I think (as do those in the know) a Tony nomination, if not a win, is assured. Such a physical role, he is in every scene – in mind and matter.  And BOTH matter on stage.  Keen intelligence as well as stamina is required for the portrayal of an autistic savant teenager, this is a challenge for any actor, let alone one spanking new to the boards. Bravo Alex, you are fantastic.

06CURIOUS-slide-UKTL-slideThe rest of the cast – who assume multiple roles in this show – surely deserve great praise. Particularly stand out are Mercedes Herrero, Richard Hollis and Francesca Faridany who plays Siobhan, Alex’s oft quoted teacher. Be apprised, at the Sunday matinee and Wednesday evening performance, Taylor Trensch will play the part of Christopher.

It bears repeating…you have to find a new way to tell a story, an innovative manner. The playwright, Simon Stephens, has done just that with this bold, daunting play, a novel approach to a novel!  Broadway is catching up to film and its imaginative use of today’s technology, not only in musicals which it serves so well, but in straight dramas.

NOW…..

WARINING: Just when you think the show is over, and the well earned applause has stopped, stick around. You are in for a treat! I’ll say no more except stay put and enjoy this interesting sidebar. Intriguing, right?!    

Have you seen the show or read the book?  Let’s chat in the comments below!

By: Joanne Thedorou

||Photo Credit: 1, 2||

Feb
25

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5 Tips For Making It Through Cold And Flu Season + Giveaway

You know those people with immune systems made of steel, that never so much as get a sniffle during cold & flu season?  (sidenote: nope, I’m not one of them!)  Being sick is the absolute pits, and I envy those iron men and women warriors even more this time of year, because you know what especially sucks when you’re bundled in 17 layers of clothing and surrounded by a million people?  Having a coughing fit on the subway that’s so bad you actually accept a cough drop from an absolute stranger, and only later think that accepting digestible things from people on the train may not be among the smartest things you’ve ever done.  But desperate times, right?  (yep! true story, happened to me!)

So.  I asked a few of those “I never ever get sick, ever” people what their secrets to surviving the season are (besides get the flu shot and wash your hands, cause I think we’re all pretty aware of those by now, yeah?)  Here’s their tips:

Puffs copy1. Drink A Gallon Of Water A Day

I feel the need to run to the bathroom just reading that, but keeping hydrated is the number one “don’t get sick” rule everyone swears by.

2. Don’t Over Schedule Yourself

All the New Yorkers are rolling their eyes at this one, I know.  But exhausting yourself is a sure fire way to get your immune system really tired, too.  So instead of packing your weekends and evenings full of activities to keep yourself from seasonal depression (come on already, spring!), carve plenty of time to just chill in the comfort (and cleanliness!) of your own apartment.

3. Don’t Touch Things

I worked with a woman once who would always open doors with a tissue or hanky, and wore gloves whenever she was on the subway (even in the summer, but the thin ones!)  While, yes, this can quickly label you as the office germaphobe, here’s a little secret: in the 3 years I knew her, she was never out sick once.  Healthy as a horse, that one!

4. “Neck Check” Before Working Out

It’s well-known that keeping fit during the winter can ward off getting sick, but if you’re starting to feel a bit under the weather, do a “neck check” before engaging in even light physical activity.  If the symptoms are ABOVE your neck (stuffy nose, sneezing, mild sore throat), a light workout is fine.  But if you’re feeling crappy BELOW your neck (body aches, chills, fever), skip the workout entirely and get in bed.

5. Make Yourself An Emergency Kit

You know what’s totally NOT fun?  Running to Duane Reade AFTER you’ve started feeling awful.  Walking around the drugstore like a zombie is nobody’s idea of a swell time.  So, load up on cold and flu essentials before the season gets in full swing, and keep them with you in case you (or a colleague, friend, or random stranger on the subway!) needs something.  A few essentials to keep in your baggie are: Airborne (because prevention!), tissues, nasal spray, cough drops, hand sanitizer, and a feel-better drug (like Dayquil!) to get you through the day.

NYTOUGH_White_logo_72dpi

And a special cold and flu treat for our readers!  We’re partnering with P&G and hosting a giveaway valued at $55, including $50 AMEX gift cards plus Puffs boxes and Vicks coupons.  Exciting right?!  Simply leave a comment below telling us your tips for staying well (and sane!) during cold and flu season.  Bonus points for tweeting out your response using the hashtags #NYTough and #ColdandFlu (just be sure to tag us so we see, @UsedYorkCity.)

The giveaway will end on March 15th, and winners will be notified via email.  Best of luck!

xo,

Jess