Lessons In Blogging From Garance Dore

Garance Dore

Seeing the darling Garance Dore at the French Institute Alliance Francaise during her “Style Stories” interview was already a highlight of my month life.  I find this French girl the epitome of all things style and vogue, from the perfect application of her red lipstick to her ability to create a denim on denim outfit without it looking like a Canadian tuxedo, and follow her blog religiously.  Tres chic hardly does her justice.

Interviewed by Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist,  I was expecting to get fashion tips such as her can’t live without flats (Porsellis) and her wardrobe staples (white jeans and gray knits).  What I wasn’t expecting during the interview, though, were her words of wisdom and tips on blogging, which I also found truly brilliant.

{Note, I was scribbling frantically with a little pencil during the interview, so a word for word perfect transcripton this is not.  But as close enough as I could scrawl.}

On Starting Out

“My parents thought that being an artist meant that I would live under a bridge.  I met artists and yes, they were starving, but they were very happy starving.  I took my chance and said, ‘I’m going to be poor and that’s fine.’  And every day I would publish a new illustration on my blog that I spent an hour doing, then go about my day…that’s how it started.”

On Inspiration

“Inspiration gets diffused as you get older, cause you’ve achieved more.  I’ve met a lot of people I admire but most the time I find I’m better not to…this has helped me to not idealize people.  A sunny afternoon and lots of natural sunlight prove to be inspiration enough.”

On Her Writing Style

“I always write like I’m talking to one person.”

On Finding Your Niche

“In France, niche means ‘dog house’.  I think a link to certain people will always be there when blogging, your audience may be small, but they will be engaged by you being honest.  You can’t fake sincerity.”

On Humor

“I promise you I’m very funny, just not very funny in English.”

(Totally disagree here, she’s hysterical.  And that accent!)

On Breaking Out

“Always take big chances but make it look easy.”

On Success (From Interviewer Scott)

“It’s really her day in and day out, the only way to be a successful blogger is to be really honest.”

On Fashion

Scott: “I don’t think we’re materialistic people considering how much we love fashion.”

Garance: “Actually, I am.”

(Seriously, see how funny she is?!)

Fashion at FIAF will be continuing through the end of March.  And of course, the FIAF is New York’s premiere cultural and language center to go for all things French, so make sure to stay abreast of their upcoming events on their website.

Have you heard any good words of wisdom on blogging lately?  Share below!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen








A NY Minute In Amanda’s Apartment


We are so excited to welcome Amanda Mactas to the blog today to share her lovely NYC home with us!

What neighborhood do you live in?

Midtown East

How long have you lived in this apartment, and who do you share your home with?

I’ve lived here for over two years now by myself and I love it. Although, when it gets messy I have no one else to blame it on.

What kind of “home decor” or style defines your space?

Eclectic, I guess. A lot of the items in my apartment are hand-me-downs from my parents and I’ve mixed them in with furniture and decorations I’ve found that are comfortable and casual.

What’s your favorite feature of the apartment itself?

I love my bathroom. It has beautiful marble tile and a really cool vanity with retro lightbulbs that I fell in love with. I decorated it with some fun, colorful matching pieces.

What are your favorite pieces in your apartment, and where did you get them? 

That’s so tough! In no particular oder –

1. I have this quilt that my mom had made for me when I graduated from college that is made from a bunch of my old t-shirts. They all have memories, whether it’s from a team sport, a concert, or a family vacation. It’s really unique and I use it all the time.

2. I also have this really cool antique cookbook stand that was a gift from my grandparents. Not that I’m a huge cook, but it’s really nice to put on display.

3. Another piece I really like is this fun crocodile print side table I have by my couch. I’ve never seen anything like it before and it’s great when I have company for friends to put their drinks on, etc.

4. All my artwork. I love collecting art and have it all over my apartment. I found these two cool paintings at a street fair that are both different views in NYC which I hung next to each other and I have a drawing of an old man I drew back in college (the only decent one I produced). I have plenty more, but some still need to be hung up or are just random things I’ve found at Home Goods or Bed, Bath & Beyond.

What’s your number one tip for NYC living?

No matter where you live in NYC you won’t have enough space, so keep going through everything you own and downsize when you can!

Thank you so much for sharing your home with us, Amanda!  You can find more of Amanda on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Want to share your NYC apartment on the site?  Drop us a note at!







Top 10 New York City Movies From My West Coast Point Of View


My love for The Big Apple goes back to my early memories as a little boy and talks with my father. He told me of the most magical city in the world that existed a very long ways from our home in California. It had the tallest buildings in the world that looked like regal giants. It was a city where all of your dreams could come true. That was his New York City.

It quickly became mine too as Dad would sit at the side of my bed and instead of reading a book to me or with me he would tell me stories. The true life recap of his memories as a little boy following the New York Yankees in the 1920’s and 30’s. The most beautiful stadium ever being The House That Ruth Built. And that crown jewel lay in amongst more treasures than could be mentioned from Times Square and the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty. My love and infatuation was forever born and remains steadfast to this day.

I have never been to New York City. I will someday. All of my life I have frequently visited it vicariously through movies. When Jess asked me if I would like to do a Top 10 New York City Movie post my jaw dropped. I was stunned beyond belief yet thrilled and honored past my wildest dreams. It took me quite a while to put it together because I wanted to write it from a very unique perspective. A writing technique I learned a long time ago was to write a story to one person. Well, I wrote this one to the citizens of New York City. No pressure there, huh?

These are my Top 10 New York City Movies of all time. I’ve included trivia questions for each along with the starring actors. My brief synopsis is the unique part in that I describe how I see your city in each specific movie. I included what things I want to see or go do or eat at from specific places that were included in each movie. Then I proposed a question at the end of each so that both myself and anyone visiting your beautiful city can take away and learn from them!

Well, here goes…please enjoy!

10 The French Connection (1971)

Question – To learn about the characters and get into their roles who did Roy Scheider and Gene Hackman go on patrol with for a month?

I always had hoped to eat at Ratner’s on the Lower East Side where Bugsy Siegel used to dine but I heard it closed down some ten years ago.  To explore Bushwick and Harlem on foot and eat in long time family eateries. Yet for me the biggest memory of the film was the famous car chase. I would so hope the city would have a real-life fan car ride at speed from the Bay 50th Street Station, under the West End Line and climaxing at Stillwell Avenue and 86th Street. Is the elevated train still in use today and have many of you been to that intersection?

Answer – The real life Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso (both also had cameos) who made the bust. Hackman became disgusted at the sights he saw during this patrol. In one incident he had to help restrain a suspect in the squad car and later worried that he would be sued for impersonating a policeman.

Gene Hackman – Det. Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle
Fernando Rey – Alain Charnier
Roy Scheider – Det. Buddy ‘Cloudy’ Russo
Eddie Egan – Walt Simonson
Sonny Grosso – Bill Klein
Director William Friedkin

9 Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Question –  To prepare for his role as Noodles who did Robert De Niro request a private meeting with?

Of course, I am going to give a shout out to New York City’s actor poster boy; De Niro. McSorley’s Old Ale House by Saint Mark’s Square would be a must visit and hopefully sit on a bar stool where Abe Lincoln or John Lennon once sat and had a pint. Then I would head over and have a sit on a park bench to admire the Manhattan Bridge at dusk. Is it as romantic as it looks?

Answer – Crime boss Meyer Lansky who denied the request. 

Robert De Niro – David ‘Noodles’ Aaronson
James Woods –  Maximilian ‘Max’ Bercovicz
Elizabeth McGovern –  Deborah Gelly
Joe Pesci  –  Frankie Manoldi
Burt Young –  Joe
Tuesday Weld –  Carol
Treat Williams  –  James Conway O’Donnell
Danny Aiello –  Police Chief Vincent Aiello
Richard Bright –  Chicken Joe
William Forsythe – Philip ‘Cockeye’ Stein
Jennifer Connelly – young Deborah Gelly 

8 Ghostbusters (1984)

Question – Most of the scenes with the Ghostbusters racing around the city and driving in the Ectomobile were done on the first day and without permits. What happens when someone who looks like a possible security guard approaches the vehicle with Dan Aykroyd behind the wheel?

Ahhh, the summer of 1984 was Ghostbusters and the Ray Parker, Jr. mega-hit of the same name. I want to visit Columbia University but I heard the Tavern on the Green has now closed that I also wanted to see. Next would be 55 Central Park West and then the New York Public Library. I would be channeling my inner Venkman, Ray and Spengler by cruising to Lower Manhattan in Tribeca and visit the Hook and Ladder #8 Firehouse. Have you experienced actually going inside and meeting what are said to be the friendly firemen?

Answer – He took off driving and if you look carefully you can see Aykroyd doing his best road rage impression.

Bill Murray – Dr. Peter Venkman
Dan Aykroyd – Dr. Raymond “Ray” Stantz
Sigourney Weaver – Dana Barrett
Harold Ramis – Dr. Egon Spengler
Ernie Hudson – Winston Zeddemore
Rick Moranis – Louis Tully
Annie Potts – Janine Melnitz
Director Ivan Reitman

7 Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Question – What really happened during filming of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge scene?

I saw this movie with my parents because I refused to stop nagging them until they took me. I came out of it with one mindset – to learn how to disco dance and channel my inner Tony Manero. Grand Union supermarket and Fisherman’s Corner no longer exists. I would make my first stop at Phillips Dance Studio on West 7th Street and Bay Parkway. Next, I would have to stop at White Castle Burger on 92nd Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn and Lenny’s Pizza on 1969 86th St in Brooklyn while listening to “Night Fever”. Have any of you been to the bench vista of the Verrazano Bridge located on the Shore Promenade?

Answer – Donna Pescow was not told there was a landing platform a few feet below for Tony, Double-J and Joey. Therefore Donna’s reaction to them falling, and her facial expressions turning from horror and shock to outright anger, were real, and her next line, “YOU FUCKERS!”, was not scripted.

John Travolta – Anthony “Tony” Manero
Karen Lynn Gorney –  Stephanie Mangano
Barry Miller – Bobby C.
Joseph Cali – Joey
Director  John Badham

6 Manhattan (1979)

Question – At the time Director Woody Allen said one of the best director quotes for a representation of any New York City movie. It is the crux of New York City and the entire foundation of my post. What was it?

There was no way I would do a Top 10 New York City Movie post and neglect neither Woody Allen nor the movie Manhattan. At least not with any expectation to arrive in town and leave in one piece. Finally we get to walk through the Upper East Side, West Side and Midtown.  This movie alone would take me a couple of days to fulfill my list! The American Museum of Natural History, Hayden Planetarium, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Staten Island Ferry, the Queensboro Bridge and Park Avenue. Yet again, one I really had looked forward to would have been Elaine’s Restaurant which has now closed. Have you been to either of the museums and did you like them?

Answer – Allen, “I presented a view of the city as I’d like it to be and as it can be today, if you take the trouble to walk on the right streets”.

Woody Allen – Isaac Davis
Diane Keaton – Mary Wilkie
Michael Murphy – Yale Pollack
Mariel Hemingway – Tracy
Meryl Streep – Jill Davis
Director  Woody Allen

5 Mean Streets  (1973)

Question – Who is the lady closing the window in the very last shot of the movie?

Actually a lot of this movie was shot in Los Angeles (I know….boooo…hissss) but it’s De Niro in a New York City classic. He’s your guy and deserves all of the recognition and accolades from the city in my opinion. I had great visions of wanting to at least check out Volpe’s Bar in NoLita but it’s closed. I will have to make up for it with a walk down Mulberry Street and eating some of the best that Little Italy has to offer. I will wind up my tour with stopping by in respect to St Patrick’s Old Cathedral. Do you visit the restaurants in Little Italy often?

Answer – That is Martin Scorsee’s mother, Catherine.

Harvey Keitel as Charlie
Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy
David Proval as Tony
Amy Robinson as Teresa
David Carradine as Drunk
Robert Carradine as Boy With Gun
Martin Scorsese as Henchman
Director Martin Scorsese

4 Wall Street (1987)

Question – There is an added slant to this trivia question for those paying attention to this year’s Academy Award nominations. When Bud Fox enters Gekko’s Office for the first time and the doors close behind him what can you hear?

This was the first feature film to show a character using a cordless portable phone and wow was I digging Gekko talking on his on the beach at sunrise. Finally I get to cruise down to Times Square which is one of the many iconic tourists attractions to me. Then a pan-seared 16 oz Irish Gaelic Steak in a creamy Irish Whiskey and peppercorn sauce with a McCallan’s 18-year-old malt afterwards at PJ Moran’s in Midtown. Wrap it up with some drinks at 21 Club in Manhattan and that would be a very happy night. Are the views from the apartment and townhouse rooms overlooking the city as breathtaking in real life as they are in the movie?

Answer – You can hear a wolf howl.

Michael Douglas – Gordon Gekko
Charlie Sheen – Bud Fox
Daryl Hannah – Darien Taylor
Martin Sheen – Carl Fox
John C. McGinley – Marvin
Terence Stamp – Sir Larry Wildman
James Karen – Lynch
Hal Holbrook – Lou Mannheim
Sean Young – Kate Gekko
James Spader – Roger Barnes
Director Oliver Stone 

3 GoodFellas (1990)

Question – Why did Henry give Paulie the reaction he did upon his release from prison?

A couple more new places for me to visit in Astoria and Red Hook. I wanted to go to Maspeth and eat at the Clinton Diner or Salerono’s but they both appear to be closed.  No problem because there is the Hawaii Kai restaurant or a  juicy Jackson Hole burger. I would have to make a quick trip to New Rochelle (sorry, a Dick Van Dyke Show lifetime wish) then back to see the George Washington Bridge and the New York County Courthouse. A wrap for the night would be at the legendary Copa on the East Side. I would drift off pretending I was sitting next to any of Jerry and Lewis, Henry Belafonte, The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Yogi, Mickey and Whitey. That would be a night to remember. Have you been to the Copacabana and was it as it grand as I’ve dreamed it to be?

Answer -Paul Sorvino’s slap across Liotta’s face was completely unscripted and ad-libbed. Hence Liotta’s shock.

Ray Liotta – Henry Hill
Robert De Niro –  Jimmy Conway
Joe Pesci – Tommy DeVito
Lorraine Bracco – Karen Hill
Paul Sorvino – Paul Cicero
Samuel L. Jackson – Parnell “Stacks” Edwards
Catherine Scorsese – Tommy DeVito’s mother
Detective Ed Deacy as  himself
Charles Scorsese – Vinnie
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed McDonald as himself
Director Martin Scorsese

2 The Godfather (1972)

Question – What is the American Film Institutes #2 alltime quote?

I had a front row seat to a real life gangster when Joseph Bonanno and his sons were busted for a huge laundering operation right in my hometown of Lodi, California in the mid-70’s. I had seen both The Godfather and the sequel and my intrigue with New York was further heightened.  I wanted to know what it was like to walk through Little Italy and Prince’s Bay to get the feeling of what it was like to be in the movie. Is there still a lot of thought to the mafia being active in the city today?

Answer – When Michael says, “My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

Marlon Brando – Vito
Al Pacino – Michael Corleone
James Caan – Santino “Sonny” Corleone
Richard S. Castellano – Peter Clemenza
Robert Duvall – Tom Hagen
Diane Keaton – Kay Adams-Corleone
John Cazale – Frederico “Fredo” Corleone
Talia Shire – Constanzia “Connie” Corleone
Abe Vigoda – Salvatore Tessio
Director Francis Ford Coppola 

1 Serendipity (2001)

Question – What is the name of the restaurant where Sara and Jonathan have their drink? What is the drink? And what is now unique about that table where they sat at?

Growing up, my life-seen-through-rose-colored-glasses-mother blessed me with my favorite word ever in my life to this day: serendipity. Add that to my all time #1 bucket list city and you have magic. This movie was all that and more as I fantasized over what it would be like to stay at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel or meet the future love of my life on a winter evening stroll at the 5th Avenue skating rink. It doesn’t hurt that my biggest Hollywood crush, Ms Beckinsale, plays the leading lady. Is New York City as magical and romantic as I’ve always believed it to be?

Answer – That is the famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from the restaurant Serendipity 3 and the sitting is now called the Star Table.

John Cusack – Jonathan Trager
Kate Beckinsale – Sara Thomas
Molly Shannon – Eve
Bridget Moynahan – Halley Buchanan
Jeremy Piven – Dean Kansky
John Corbett – Lars Hammond

What do you think is the most iconic New York City movie that represents your city?


About the Author: This is a guest post written by Mike Vogler of Past My Curfew.  Visit his blog to follow his West Coast adventures with his very handsome golden retriever, Phoenix!



My Perfect Winter Getaway: Reykjavik, Iceland (Who Knew?!)

Photo Credit: Jessica Anand

After such an unexpected, bitterly cold NYC winter, I was much looking forward to leaving my beloved, albeit frozen, big apple for a few days.  Who wasn’t stir crazy from too many days inside staying warm. Time to get outta Dodge. 

Photo Credit: Stefaan Pomme

So while most people were flying South, researching affordable airfare to Aruba or package deals to the Mayan Riviera – I welcomed a trip near the Artic… hello REYKJAVIK, ICELAND.  Crazy, right?  As my friends quipped “were you out sick the day they taught geography?  You are headed in the wrong direction…Are you misspelling, and you mean IRELAND not ICELAND!”  Such cynicism! So I started to question my internal compass. Perhaps there is an unknown by product of the polar vortex, and my usually sound judgment was severely impaired by NYC temperatures consistently in the teens? Truth be told, the only thing I knew about Iceland is that the great chess champion, Bobby Fisher, lived there. I dimly recalled many global economic summits being held there. I found this reassuring as would the world’s leaders gather in an uninhabitable – albeit neutral – setting? However I was well aware that the Aurora Borealis could be spotted from Iceland and that was enough of a draw for me.  

There are no words to describe such a striking event except to expect the unexpected.  I was awestruck.

I just couldn’t resist this incredibly inexpensive junket being offered by Icelandair. For a modest $739, including round trip airfare in/out of JFK – a mere 5 and a ½  hour overnight flight-  I stayed four nights/five days at the excellently located Center Hotel Plaza which included a full, diverse buffet breakfast every morning. In addition, a 3+ hour cruise out of Reykjavik’s harbor to view the phenomenal “Northern Lights” was included and to further sweeten this deal, a trip to the fabulous Blue Lagoon, a natural, geothermal outdoor pool and accompanying spa, was also a part of this particular package.  The Blue Lagoon even threw in a free drink and samples of their natural skincare products.

Photo Credit: Jessica Anand

Photo Credit: Amel Talisayon

Needless to say, all the jokes about trolls and elves attacking me in my sleep, sleeping in an igloo, living on reindeer meat,  four hours of daylight, and an incomprehensible language did not prove true. Yes, there is a consonant driven Icelandic language but everyone, fortunately, speaks English. There were about 7 – 8 hours of daylight; the sun came out about 10 AM this first week of February. However, come summers, there is almost 24 hours of daylight. I searched high and low, no elves excepting as souvenirs in gift shops. Trolls? Totally subjective! No snow houses anywhere, but many bright, shiny greenhouses for growing vegetables and fruits illuminate this strange landscape.

There is an unearthly beauty to Iceland, it looks like no where else – excepting possibly the surface of the moon – roughly cratered by centuries of lava flow, it is not naturally green and grassy, but eerily earthy and icy. 

Photo Credit: Helgi Skulason

Photo Credit: Vinod Krishnan

It’s the natural phenomena unique to this unusual country that present its key attractions. The volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, a rugged yet evenly aligned coastline, and that ultimate sighting – the Aurora Borealis- uniquely define this peaceful little country. Iceland has a tiny population of approx. 320,000 (most of their citizens reside in Reykjavik) no army, and quite literally, a cool, calm, collect way of life. Yes, the city of Reykjavik has its share of interesting museums, especially The National Museum of Iceland, and a wonderful waterfront full of interesting, outdoor artwork acknowledging their Viking heritage, and architecturally bold, modern edifices hosting the day to day  operation of a country. And I had a great time walking its hilly streets, browsing some diverse art galleries, shopping for the familiar patterns inherent in Icelandic outerwear (these people know how to stay warm while still looking fashionable) and admiring some lovely residential neighborhoods.  But this is an outdoor oriented city gorgeously surrounded by blue skies and serene, snow peaked mountains which constantly remind us to leave the comforts of urban life and come enjoy the natural world.

Oh, lest I forget….it was 35 degrees while I was in Iceland, not a dot of the white stuff, while NYC was snow packed and 22 degrees.

You can rent a car, and quite easily do Iceland’s famous “ring drive.” Experience the wonders of walking on a glacier or under a waterfall; feel the warm earth of a geo thermal terrain while viewing the numerous volcanoes defining this unique habitat; marvel at a spouting geyser, and explore several breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But there are so many affordable bus tours (they pick you up right at your hotel) with knowledgeable, helpful tour guides, why bother?  Yet the zenith of this sojourn is the cruise away from the city lights (bundle up, the boats travel an hour and a half north of the city) for a view of the Northern Lights, that ultimate, fantastic neon light show.  Passenger only, small cruise ships depart the small harbor of Reykjavik about 9 PM for ideal viewing time around eleven pm.  And should there be too much cloud cover preventing this magnificent spectacle, you are welcome, free of charge, to take the cruise over until you finally get the chance to view this wonder of nature.  There are no words to describe such a striking event except to expect the unexpected.  I was awestruck.

Photo Credit: Stefan Kristinsson

Photo Credit: William Olson

Food is costly, I admit, but oddly enough, Iceland is known for their inexpensive hot dogs (a special kind of lamb is mixed in the beef) and a seemingly limitless selection of beers and burgers. Hearty soups and breads abound (highly recommended) and of course, a fish dinner is the obvious splurge. Walk down to the harbor where numerous seafood restaurants circle Reyjkvik’s small harbor, and order the catch of the day.

Oh, lest I forget….it was 35 degrees while I was in Iceland, not a dot of the white stuff, while NYC was snow packed and 22 degrees. My heavy UGG boots, sweaters socks and thermal tops lay unused, a waste of suitcase space. So all you jokers – and you know who you are – who had the last laugh? Glad I didn’t listen to the naysayes and packed my bathing suit for use in the 80+ degree outdoor, volcanically warmed pool!

Have you experienced your own perfect winter getaway this year?  Share below!


By: Joanne Theodorou


This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.






I Remember Mama + Giveaway

Go Ask Mama

This contest has officially ended.  A huge New York thank you to all who participated, and congrats to our winner, Bettie!  Stay tuned for more exciting giveaways!

More great theater tickets in this week’s giveaway to “I Remember Mama”.  Here’s some info about the show:

“The Transport Group’s 20th Century Project continues into its second decade (1910-1920) with an urgent new revival of John Van Druten’s beloved classic, I REMEMBER MAMA. Redefining family, time, and memory, this formidable production features a cast of ten powerhouse veteran actresses who play all twenty-three roles. Directed by Jack Cummings III, this bold reinterpretation of Van Druten’s simple and honest story reveals how even the smallest and seemingly insignificant experiences of family life can silently accumulate and take our breath away.”



Want those free tickets?  Here’s how to enter:

1. Subscribe to Used York City, getting the best picks of NYC delivered straight to your inbox.  (Don’t forget to respond to the verification message you are sent via email.  Previous subscribers are automatically entered!)

For a bonus entry:

1.  Like us on Facebook, and leave a comment about what you would like to see more of on UsedYorkCity!  We love readers’ feedback!:-)


The contest will run until Friday, March 21st, 2014, at which time winners will be randomly chosen and announced on this post and via Twitter, and the winners will be notified directly by the email address that they subscribed with!  Best of luck to all our readers!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen