Dec
22

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Behind The Scenes Tour At Radio City Music Hall!

unnamedI may have just found my favorite inside tour in NYC…!  Big statement?  I know.  But let me give you a tiny bit of background.

My very first visit to NYC was at Christmastime when I was in high school, oh, circa 1997.  My mom brought me and my siblings into the city to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  For a dancer/theater lover like myself, it was truly the most magical experience, and it was then and there that I decided that someday, I too, was going to be a New Yorker.  

Fast forward many, many years to my grad school graduation.  Guess what?  It was held at Radio City!  I practically skipped across the stage, making sure to pause right in the middle to blow mom a kiss (she was somewhere in that huge audience of 6,000 seats!)  So needless to say, this classic venue holds quite a bit of sentiment to me.

So.

When I heard about the Radio City Stage Door Tour, I was pretty stoked.  The tours leave every half hour, so we jumped on an afternoon tour (that coincided with the Christmas Spectacular, so extra festive excitement!)  The tour lasts an hour, and takes you into the private Rockefeller viewing suite, through the back corridors of the theater, past the Rockettes’ warm-up and audition rooms, and get this…even a meet and greet with a Rockette!

And of course all along the way we were fed tidbits of info about the history of Radio City (opened on December 27, 1932!), the Rockettes (in peak season they perform 6 shows a day…the girls are split into morning and afternoon shows to take some of the pressure off!) and the theater’s memorable moments (Bette Midler shattered a record at Radio City in 1993 by selling out 30 shows!)

unnamed-2 unnamed-3 unnamed-1 unnamed-4Whether you’re a theater lover, have littles that love dance, or just want a fun and festive and WARM tour of a piece of NYC history, this tour is definitely one to keep in mind!  Reservations aren’t needed, but you can score a bit of a discount for booking tickets online (unless you have a Student ID, in which case the cost is $17 and it’s cheaper to buy onsite;-)  

By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

Dec
19

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10 Tips To Help You Downsize To A Smaller Home

Transitioning to a new town is difficult enough with the logistics of moving, the heavy lifting, the clean up, and the feeling of being out of place, but when you also have to significantly downsize your life to fit in your new home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

Nonetheless, if you’re smart about it and take things step by step, you’ll be settled into your new, smaller digs and feeling cozy in no time.

unnamed-71. Take inventory

Room by room, take stock of what you’ve got. Really look into the back of all those closets to see what you have that will need to be stored at your new place. Holiday decorations, art and craft supplies, or your collection of snow globes. Make lists (you’ll be making a lot of lists, so get that legal-pad ready) of all large furniture you have and the dimensions of each piece.

2. Consider your new home

When you do a walkthrough at your new place, get the measurements of each room.  Check on how many square feet of storage space you have (if you’re lucky enough to have storage space) and what the closet situation is. Compare the floor space in each room to the square footage your furniture will need; it will help you get a better feel for what everything will look like once inside, as opposed to just imagining it.

3. Declutter!

This is the mother of all moving tips: get rid of stuff! Is it fun? No. Will it make a gigantic difference on the day you’re trying to unpack everything into your smaller space? Absolutely. Follow the maxim of “toss, donate, keep” as you go through each item. Make donation and trash piles, and start sorting. Really take a hard look at what you need to keep, and try to offload as much as possible.

unnamed-64. Sell, sell, sell!

Once you know what you won’t be taking, consider holding a garage sale before you donate, to help make some extra cash to fund your move. If you don’t have the time or energy to do a full-blown shindig, post a few items for sale on Craigslist, or try a local Facebook buy, sell and trade group. Things like furniture, seasonal items, and clothing tend to sell quickly, making an easy buck or two.

5. Plan your space

Planning where things go ahead of time will save you much time and annoyance when the big day comes. Know which room each piece of furniture will go in, and label them so there is no confusion. Get creative with your storage options; if you have an extra shelf in the pantry, don’t hesitate to use it for something non-food related like those snow globes! As long as it’s organized, there is no hard-and-fast rule that says things have to go in a certain room.

6. Think up! 

Your new place may be small, but it still has walls, so use them. Look into vertical storage solutions like pot and pan racks for the kitchen, shelving for the living areas, and shoe, scarf and hat racks for the back of doors. Get things up and off the floor so you have more living space.

7. Get your storage on, ahead of time

Before you move anything else in, put your storage solutions in place. Put up your shelves, hang your racks, and get any big, plastic containers (very helpful for stackable storage in closets) ready to be put to use.

8. Rent a storage unit

If you have big items you absolutely cannot bear to part with that just won’t fit in your new space, rent the minimum square footage storage unit and keep them safe there. Storage units are also a great place to keep seasonal items like holiday decorations or sports equipment when they’re not going to be in use.

9. Plan your move

If you’re moving into a significantly smaller space, chances are good that you’ll be heading into a building with either lots of stairs or an elevator. Check dimensions here ahead of time too (how handy is that list of furniture dimensions now?) to make sure everything will fit into stairwells, in elevators, and through doors.

unnamed-810. Move in and unpack

Don’t let things sit around for longer than a couple weeks; get everything put away as quickly as possible to free that much needed floor space of boxes and packing materials.

Once you’ve settled into your new place, make it a priority to keep things clean, orderly and maybe even a little bit Zen-like. Small spaces can become cluttered more easily. Organization, along with a minimalist lifestyle, is key. Gone are the days you’ll be able indulge your desire to shop till you drop, regardless of whether you really need that fabulous pair of pumps or not. Take heart, though, and think of all the money you’ll save!

About the Author: Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY Moving, a moving company based in New York. She is a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients.

Dec
18

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UYC’s Book Club: Miracle On 34th Street

For this month’s selection, we kept it simple…as in kid-lit simple.  December seems to be a lot busier than any other month, so I figured a short, sweet, NYC classic that’s also big on holiday spirit would be a good way to go.  Result?  Miracle on 34th Street, my friends!  Here’s a synopsis from GoodReads:

Kris Kringle is an elderly gentleman who lives at the Maplewood Home for the Aged in New York City, NY. When the Santa hired for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade shows up drunk, Doris Walker, the somewhat frosty, divorced Personnel Director at Macy’s, hires Kris to take his place, and Mr. Shellhammer, Head of the Toy Department, suggests that she keep Kris for the permanent job of Santa at Macy’s Department Store on 34th St., where he creates a lot of good will which even owner R. H. Macy notices.

Kris even affects Doris’s daughter, six-year-old Susan, who has been brought up by her disillusioned mother to be as matter-of-fact as herself, and their neighbor and Doris’s would-be boyfriend Fred Gailey, a lawyer with whom Kris moves in. Everything is going well until people begin to find out that Kris actually believes that he is the real Santa Claus. So the Macy’s company psychologist, Albert Sawyer, who dislikes Santa Claus anyway, decides to have Kris committed to Bellevue Insane Asylum and does so secretly without Doris’s knowledge. When he learns about it, Fred petitions for a court hearing to decide Kris’s sanity and determines to have him declared sane.

Discussion time!  While this novel was written with kids in mind and is definitely on the shorter side, I still thought its theme was perhaps the biggest of all the books we’ve read this year.

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1. What was your biggest takeaway from the story?

For me, it all comes down to the part in the book that says, “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”  Indeed, while having faith in Santa Claus may look different for a small child than a grownup, the concept is just that…we can’t always see what’s there, but no less need to believe with all our heart…rain AND shine.  (And obviously we are talking about Santa Claus metaphorically–sub in whatever spiritual persona/seemingly unattainable goal or wish you want here;-)

2. This is a rare case of the book being written after the movie.  Do you think this had an effect on the story?

I did find the writing style a bit childish and almost overly structured…granted, it is a kid’s book, but I feel that perhaps the author was relying too heavily on the screenplay version?  I can’t help but think this story may have sounded a bit differently if written before.

Regardless, I’m glad I finally read this holiday classic.  I’ve seen the film countless times over the years, and it was nice to experience it in written form.

3. Being written in 1947, do you feel the book expresses a different kind of NYC than we have today at the holidays?

Shockingly, no!  The book starts out at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I imagined to be very much similar to the one we still have today.  Macy’s Department store and legendary Santa Claus are still very much important landmarks in NYC.  I think maybe that’s why it was so easy for the remake of the film, taking place in 1994, to seem so realistic, despite the decades that have passed since the original.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book below, and make sure to join us next month for our discussion on Panic in a Suitcase, which we’ll hold on the blog on Thursday, January 22nd. Between now and then feel free to share your thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #UYCBookclub!

By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

 

Dec
17

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5 Tips For Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining + Giveaway

With the holiday season comes a lot more entertaining, am I right?  Whether you’re hosting a full on dinner party or simply having friends over for a few festive cocktails, here’s a few tips that can make your holiday soirees a little more merry and a little less stressed.

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1. Keep Well Stocked

This time of year, I always try to have a few essential things on hand: bottles of wine + champagne, Bounty, and a go-to app such as cheese and crackers.  This way, you’re prepped for spur of the moment visitors, and also the cleanup that comes with.

2. 15 Minute Pick-Up

A big-ol’ cleanup before guests arrive can take the joy out of the experience, and let’s be real…coming from work, there’s just not always time.  So here’s my little trick: I set the timer on my phone for 15 minutes, blast some Christmas music, and in that time run around like a crazy person cleaning the area of the house I know the guests will be in.  Meaning: kitchen/living room/bathroom get a proper clean, but I’m not so worried about the bedroom.  When the alarm goes off, I’m done.  You’ll be surprised at how much is accomplished!

3. Go-To Playlist

Spotify has taken the stress out of playlist creation (yay!), so now it’s as simple as typing in “Dinner Party” or “Christmas Cocktail Party”, and voila!  A fully stocked playlist of music, at your service.

4. Scented Candles

Probably my favorite gift to receive ever is candles.  Seriously, I go through them like nobody’s business.  Not only does it add a festive scent to the air (Pumpkin Spice + Fir Tree are staples this time of year), but also do wonders for ambiance.

5. Seasonal Outfit

Ok–I realize this tip is not going to be taken seriously by the fashionistas, and probably doesn’t apply to a big chunk of NYC women, but…here’s the thing.  If you’re going to be doing a lot of seasonal entertaining, you want a cute outfit.  I am trying super hard not to clutter my closet with things I will wear once, and to stick with garments that will get plenty of use (we’ll talk more about this in the new year!)  So at the beginning of the season I purchased a red plaid shift dress which has already been worn like, 7 times.  I also make sure to dry clean it immediately so it’s ready for the next wear.  Only downfall?  You’ll be in the same outfit in all your pictures:-)

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And a special holiday treat for our readers!  We’re partnering with P&G and hosting a giveaway valued at $55, including full-size P&G samples plus a $25 AMEX gift card!  Exciting right?!  Simply leave a comment below telling us your tips for prep or cleanup for your holiday parties.  Bonus points for tweeting out your response using the hashtag #NYTough (just be sure to tag us so we see, @UsedYorkCity.)

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

xo,

Jess

Dec
16

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Cheap Date: Gingerbread Extravaganza At Le Parker Meridien

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It’s always fun to stumble upon an unexpected treat, particularly when that treat is made entirely out of gingerbread!

I popped into the Le Parker Meridien Hotel lobby to check the menu at Norma’s, and low and behold was greeted with the sweetest display of gingerbread houses, bridges, and Broadway extravaganzas I ever did see!

The theme?  Why, “Made in New York”, naturally!  Bakeries from all over the city put their noggins together and create delicious displays they feel represent the theme…all of them wildly different and innovative, as you’ll see!

unnamed-9I snapped photos with my phone (hence the so-so quality), and did a bit of recon when I got home.  Turns out this edible extravaganza is hosted by City Harvest annually, as a way to feed hungry New Yorkers.  Okay, not feed them gingerbread, but to have you place $1 vote on your favorite house, and then THAT money goes to feed those in need in the city.  (It’s all in the details!;-)

This is such a festive way to round out a Midtown dinner date in NYC, don’t you think?

Which one is your fave?

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By: Jessica Tiare Bowen