Nov
27

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Confession time: I love quotes.  Love as in I often scroll Pinterest while waiting in line at Whole Foods, in need of some encouraging words to make the line pass a little bit quicker and not seem like such an ordeal (I know, total first world, NYC problem.)  Love as in my in-laws and I have a little tradition of sending an uplifting quote via email every single day.  Yep, we’re each assigned a day of the week (mine is Wednesday).  I even have a little notebook where I write down witty one-liners from whatever book I’m currently reading.

You get the idea.  Great words are my jam.

This simple pin is one I recently stumbled across, and totally loved:

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Truth, right?!  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it really got me thinking about all the things I’m so grateful for and that bring so much happiness into my life.  Health, family, my sweet little Gills, our home, a super strong heating system, and good food.  (I know, I know, thank you Captain Obvious;-)  But also the smaller things that maybe I don’t give too much thought to, but are pretty huge on bringing doses of happy: text message exchanges with friends, living in my favorite city in the world, the aroma my coffee pot gives off in the morning, monthly book club, delicious smelling candles, seeing dogs on the street (ok, anywhere) which always evokes an “aww!!!” from my lips, fun finds at thrift stores, an organized closet, cheese pizza, marriage, watching the previews at the movie theater, boxed wine from Trader Joe’s, to-do lists, snail mail on great stationary, Chinatown massages, monograms, scrolling through Instagram, blogging, airplane food, singing show tunes, and the excitement of marathon watching a really great show on Netflix (OITNB, The Office, Gossip Girl, House of Cards, SVU…I’m talking to you!)…to name a few.

Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in curveballs life throws us, to get caught in a cycle of thinking about things that aren’t exactly going as planned.  (Oh, life!)  But in those moments especially, it’s important to remember all the big and little things we have to be happy and thankful for.

Wishing you all a beautiful Thanksgiving, filled with an abundance of the things that make you choose happiness. 

xx,

Jess

Nov
26

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UsedYorkCity Inspiration #12

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^^Bergdorf’s does it up for the holidays, both inside and out!^^

1. Miss your pooch terribly during the day? You can now FaceTime with him, all day every day. (via New York Post)

2. 16 holiday popup shops in NYC that you’ve probably never been to, filled with great gift goodies. (via Racked)

3. Staying in the city for Thanksgiving, but not digging the idea of all day cooking? Here’s a guide to restaurants that will do all the work for you. (via Guest of a Guest)

4. The 60 best songs written about NYC, ever. Give it a listen on your commute and pretend you’re the star of your own music video. (via The Village Voice)

5. Some Thanksgiving tips for hosting in a super small space. (via Refinery 29)

What’s been inspiring you this week?  Share below!

xo,

Jess

Nov
25

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Intermission: Blank! The Musical

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Now … for something completely different.

I am speechless.

Or should I say BLANK?

BLANK! The Musical is one blankety blank blank ________   experience!  

For me, this improvisational trip was an exciting, ridiculously interesting evening of entertainment … bold, brave, and brassy.  But what a misnomer is this title, as there is so much going on within this show at New World Stages…. never, ever would “blank”  apply.  Rather this unique production is chock full of frenzied fun. Such cutting edge entertainment – perfect for a cold winter’s night. You can continuously revisit and never have a repeat show.

A singular host-emcee-referee,  played by the affable, agreeable T. J. Mannix, a musical trio represented  by drums/woodwinds/piano, and six of the hardest working cast members off-Broadway perform on an empty stage flanked by video screens. This intermission-less show is totally improvised on the spot, as determined by the present audience. This imaginative group of players is literally running on empty when the show opens.

Now I would love to share the plot with you however…

There is no script.  Neither is there a book, nor music, lyrics and yes, you guessed it, no title. I am telling you the truth ….this talented ensemble flies without a net and by the seat of their pants. (There’s a reason the cast wears solely black and blue, no coincidence there).  Now this clever cast does not make it all up as they go along – rather, the audience becomes the author, lyricist, composer, even the choreographer. It’s kinda/sorta like an electronic, elongated game of “Mad Libs” adapted for the digital age and accompanied by some rocking music.

This is most likely the only time in a theater that you don’t have to shut up your smart ass phone. You can participate by loading the app “blanktheapp.com” or join the BLANK! THE MUSICAL Wi-Fi network and vote alongside the rest of the audience members for the plot, song, and story suggestions presented by audience members. All ideas are encouraged and welcomed by our host, T.J. These are then voted on and the results appear on the large video screens. You know technology – sometimes things go awry.  But this is such an interactive show, the audience is so much a part of it all, that the instant easy rapport between cast and audience is only a shout away for all to be set right back on track, nothing stops this show.

And so at my particular performance – and I emphasize that each and every night is unique and different -  I  assisted in the creation of  a TITLE  - “Kidnapped on Uber” featuring the clever seasonal  SONG  - “I Hope It’s Not a Turkey” which I think (?) was written in a vegetarian KEY -  E flat minor, perhaps?   The BOOK was “Brooklyn, Seriously?” which lends itself to the perfect battle of the boroughs.  Amazingly, it all falls in place and Brooklyn is the new Manhattan becomes the theme of the evening. A new musical is up and running in a NY minute!

As you can well imagine, it’s really a hoot participating in the development of a moment to moment musical, which is normally a five year process from conception to stage, as noted by our happy host.  But there is absolutely nothing normal about “BLANK! The Musical.” Nor is there anything next to normal remotely present when this frenzied, imaginative, witty cast gets down to it. On a personal note, I knowingly recall some raucous (albeit raunchy) performances at the post midnight shows at the uptown legendary “Catch a Rising Star” and the old West Side “Improv” club , not to mention the early SNL telecasts.  This cast is up there with the best of these pioneers… AND they can sing and dance as well!

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As further testament to the talent on BLANK’s stage – namely Katie Dufresne, Nicole C.  Hastings, Tessa Hersh, Andrew Knox, Matthew Van Colton and Douglas Widick – they never – unlike many others working in improv – ever took the easy out and went blue.  The night I was there they presented themselves with class, cheer and good taste. This alone will bring me back for another show.

BLANK! The Musical is running until December 14th at New World States on West 50th Street.  A hip vibe surrounds this venue -  Avenue Q, the Bubble Show, Illuminate – all play there.   There’s a positive buzz the moment you enter and descend to the stages below. Take a moment to explore this unusual performance space.

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone, take advantage of this four day weekend and catch this show.

By: Joanne Theodorou

Nov
24

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Yummy Smelling Body Scrub For The Stressed Out New Yorker

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When brainstorming ideas of DIY gifts to do for the holidays, I made a list of adjectives that described my little group of friends.  (Not) shockingly enough, words that kept popping up over and over again were “tired”, “over-worked”, “under-paid”, and “stressed the f@$* out!”  (I mean this all in the nicest way possible, but truth, right?!)

So what do you make for the stressed out New Yorker?  I, for one, love nothing more than pouring myself a nice glass of bubbly and filling my pre-war tub up to the brim for a piping hot bath.  And bonus is when I have a really great body scrub for exfoliating…leaving the tub feeling like a whole new silky and shiny me!  The scrubs from boutiques around the city (Sabon, Lush, Fresh), can easily run a pretty penny though, so I gave making my own a try!  And you know what?  I’m prettttyyyyyy sure it rivals the $50 a bottle stuff!  And it really takes no time at all to make!  Here’s what you do:

Supplies:

-mason jars

-gift tags

-sugar

-coconut oil

-vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. This stuff is pretty oily when you’re compiling it, so I’d definitely suggest wearing an apron or clothes you don’t mind getting coconut oil on;-)

2. Combine 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil (you can zap it in the microwave for a few seconds if it’s solid), with 2 cups of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Mix together.  This will be about enough for 2.5 8oz jars, so if you’re making more you can double/triple the recipe.  Or use smaller jars;-)

3. Spoon the scrub into mason jars and seal tight.

4. Add little gift tags to let the recipient know what it is.  (If not they may just start spooning it into their mouths…totally edible!;-)

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And that’s it!  I love this too because you can totally adapt the colors/scents of the scrubs you make.  For example, you can sub in peppermint extract and use green food coloring for a “minty body scrub.”  Or raspberry extract with red food coloring for a “fruity body scrub.”  Or lemon extract with yellow food coloring for a “zesty body scrub”…the possibilities are endless!

I really loved the combo of the vanilla + coconut oil…the vanilla gave the scrub a bit of a brown hue, so I named this batch “brown sugar body scrub.”  Kinda makes me want to bake a big batch of cookies;-)

Here’s to being less stressed out this holiday season (and always!), NYC!

Would love to know…how do you unwind after a particularly stressful day?  Share below!

 

By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

Nov
21

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Three Years

I was all prepped to write my New Yorker Moments post for today when I realized, “holy smokes!  it’s UsedYorkCity’s 3rd anniversary!  bring out the champagne!”  (No Jess, it’s breakfast…bring out the fancy lattes!)

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Obviously I got to reflecting about when I first started this little blog back in 2011 as a way of motivating myself to get out there and appreciate the city I lived in, (even after an exhausting and stressful day of work).  I would come home after my day job and document my adventures on the blog and man my Tweetdeck and wake up at the crack of dawn the next morning to reply to comments and return emails and all the other little details that go into creating and maintaining a healthy site.  It was a labor of love with long hours and no monetary return, but one that kept me going creatively, which at the time was worth its weight in gold.

I’ve recently transitioned from a 9 year career in education to being a full time blogger + domestic engineer (that’s the fancy name I use for wifey).  My dad asks every time I talk to him how “retired life” is, and it’s always a little tricky at social gatherings trying to convince acquaintances that “no, I really don’t get bored…blogging really does take more than 5 minutes, I promise!”

Jokes aside, I’m really thankful to be able to have this time to do what I love.  I’ve been collaborating with some great folks on NYC based projects, which I’m really excited to share with you in the coming months!  Until then, here’s a peek at some of UYC’s milestones over the past 3 years…both professionally and personally.  Thank you guys all for being a part of this little blogging community…here’s to using your city and finding inspiration in the little things every single day, wherever you may be! 

professionally personally

xx,

jess

 

p.s. a peek at year two and year one!