Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alternative Thanksgiving Ideas Inspired By Movies

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and maybe you haven't thought of what to bring (if you need to) or you're just bored with the typical Thanksgiving offerings. Have no fear, here are some ideas from movies (and one TV show) to help you out!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Home for the Holidays // Key Lime Pie with M & Ms
I'm going to start out with my cheat. I do like key lime pie but don't know many others who do, so I didn't want make a whole pie nor could I find a single slice (or whole frozen pie) of pie for a photo op. I settled with a key lime mousse at the local Fairway.

Now of course when I flew into Wisconsin for the holidays I saw plenty of pie options (and so many flavored creamers! I usually do half and half in my coffee but sometimes it's fun to try them but the grocery stores in NYC are just that, grocery stores. Wisconsin has SUPERMARKETS. Remember that scene towards the end of The Hurt Locker where his wife tells him to grab cereal and he goes and there's a whole aisle with tons of options? That was me, but with creamer. And we obviously felt overwhelmed for different reasons. But I did feel all "OMG CONSUMERISM!") Okay, back to the task at hand.

In one of my favorite movies, let alone one of my favorite holiday movies, Home for the Holidays, Aunt Glady, who has been in love with her sister's husband for years, brings his favorite pie for Thanksgiving: Key Lime Pie with M & Ms. Who knows, maybe a relative of yours will love it!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Son In Law // Hungry Man
This is for those who don't want to cook for a whole family but still wants them to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Or you're celebrating alone. But that's a sad meal to eat alone. Grab a box of Stove Top and some cranberry sauce that comes in the shape of the can and call it a day.

Crawl (or crotch, if you're Lane Smith), doesn't have plans for Thanksgiving and plans to stay in the dorms with the Pilgrim Platter by Hungry Man. Sadly, the Pilgrim Platter doesn't exist, but they do have a turkey dinner with stuffing, vegetables and a cranberry cobbler.

Friends // Chandler's Thanksgiving Dinner
Chandler's parents told him they were divorcing over Thanksgiving dinner when he was nine years old.  Because of that announcement he saw his Thanksgiving dinner in reverse (he vom-ed), so he has sworn off the holiday, including it's traditional dinner. Instead he chooses to eat tomato soup, Funyuns, and grilled cheese. It's delicious and a great alternative, I see nothing wrong with it (sans Funyuns, those are nasty).

The Ice Storm // Key Party
Taking place over the Thanksgiving weekend in 1973, the two lead couples attend a key party. This is for when you need spice things up or want to freak out your friends. I brought the fish bowl to a "friends giving" and asked everyone to put in their keys without telling them why and they were all eager to put their keys in. Makes me wonder about them...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

SeaGlass Carousel at The Battery

A few weeks ago a friend asked how I find out about a lot of things in the city and it's a variety of things. I'll see a tweet or an ad, maybe even a comment on an article, then jot it down and hope I remember to look into it later on. 

The SeaGlass Carousel at The Battery is one of those things. I'm not sure where I first heard about it but after I googled for a bit I knew I had to visit. A friend was visiting from out of town and we were planning on being in the Battery Park area in downtown New York already, so I made sure to tell her that we definitely had to find the SeaGlass Carousel. 

Here's a brief rundown:

Location: Entrance at State St and Water St, New York City
Cost: $5.00

Opened in August of 2015, the carousel was created by Warrie Price, founding president of the Battery Park Conservancy and is the work of New York architectural firm WXY and artist George Tsypin

What ties it all together is the music, created by Teddy Zambetti. He took classical themes by various composers and gave them a contemporary flair. Originally, Warrie Price told Zambetti she wanted 73 individual songs, one for each ride of the day. They seemed to compromise with six pieces, four which play during the ride and one for when you get on the ride and another for when you get off. The finished songs incorporate:  “Aquarium” by Camille Saint-Saëns; Symphony No. 40 in G minor by Mozart; “Daphnis et Chloé,” Suite No. 2, by Maurice Ravel; “Dance of the Knights” from “Romeo and Juliet” by Sergei Prokofiev; and “La Mer” by Claude Debussy.

The seats are not your typical carousel seats. Instead of sitting on top of the fish, you sit inside them and because each fish is facing and spinning in their own direction, it feels like you're "swimming" among them rather than just going in a circle like your standard carousel. 

[Even the tickets are pretty]

A video posted by @stellarball on
[A short instagram video of my ride]

Pictures and video don't do it justice. The music mixed with the lights and everything is just so beautiful. I understand why the rides are only 3.5 minutes, but I do wish they were longer. I'll just add to my list of "things to do if I win the lottery" - rent the SeaGlass Carousel for a day.

[A teaser video of the carousel by the Battery Conservancy]

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cocktail Hour // Dead Poets Society + Old Fashioned

Fall doesn't really feel official until I buy my annual bottle of Woodford Reserve. I'm not sure how it started or how I was even introduced to Woodford. When I first started going out to the bars I was a Maker's Mark sour gal until I realized I was poor as fuck and should just stick to Miller Lite's.

There are also certain movies that just make sense to watch in the fall. Kind of like Christmas movies but not as obvious. One of my fall movies is Dead Poets Society. It makes sense why it's a "fall film" - it starts at the beginning of the school year, the New England foliage is shown through much of the film - for me, at least.

What better way to celebrate fall (thought it's been in the 70s lately...) than combining the two?

Though Dead Poets Society does take place in New England I had to make an Old Fashioned the Wisconsin way.  I used this recipe from the Old Fashioned Tavern and Restaurant, but obviously I used Woodford instead of Korbel and between two grocery stores and two liquor stores I couldn't find Angostura bitter so I settled for orange bitters. I love New York but that is one of the many things I miss in Wisconsin: you can buy liquor, beer, wine, mixers, groceries and hygienic products all in one place. Sometimes even banking.

pre- and post-muddle

This is me trying to be all artsy blogger. How did those pistachios just fall out of the cup?  It's artistic! All kidding aside, I kind of like this picture, I may play around with unrealistic expectations set ups more often.

Now fix yourself an Old Fashioned (the Wisconsin way) and watch Dead Poets Society while the fall air breezes through your window!

Oh, Knox Overstreet, you're so dreamy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pay-What-You-Wish Food Tour in Greenwich Village

Like everyone, I love food, but I'm also cheap, so Free Tours by Foot was right up my alley.

It's free in the sense that you don't pay anything up front, you purchase the free tickets via EventBrite then throw in a dollar or two per restaurant you stop at to sample something. At the end of the tour you are welcome to tip your tour guide as you wish. I'll start with the end of the tour and tell you that our tour guide was a lot of fun, so she got a good tip. I wish I could remember her name, but I've heard a lot of the tour guides are pretty good.

Our first stop (Washington Square Park) did not include any food samples, but our tour guide did give us a bit of history. If you know what a Potter's Field is, then you already know the history. I did not. When she said that I joked "like an artists' commune?" but a Potter's Field is far from that. Basically it's a large grave. So when you walk through Washington Square Park, Madison Square Park or Bryant Park, you're walking all over dead bodies.

Basically, back in the day, when the city's population mostly lived in the most southern part of the island and yellow fever hit, they took all the bodies to these parks, safely away from everyone else. About one hundred years later when they decided to build the famous arch, they found all these bodies in the ground and just sort of shoved them to the side. Fun.

On that morbid note, here's when the food started:

Location: Mamoun's Falafel
                119 MacDougal Street
                New York, NY 10012
I don't think I've had a falafel that I didn't like, so don't take my word for it, but there were great. For the $1 we got three with a hot and yogurt dipping sauce. Our guide warned us that the hot sauce was very hot. I like spicy and I didn't think it was too bad, but if you don't like hot/spicy, I'd skip it.

Location: Artichoke Pizza
                111 MacDougal Street 
                New York, NY 10012
This one of two places on the tour that I have previously visited, but I didn't mind. They definitely have more than artichoke pizza, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't at least try their artichoke pizza. It's super creamy and delicious and the crust stays crunchy so it's not like you have to end up eating it with a fork because it gets so soggy. 

Location: Faicco's Italian Specialties (no website available)
                 260 Bleecker St (between Cornelia St and Morton St) 
                 New York, NY 10014
I had first heard of Faicco's from a cute movie called Little Manhattan with a baby Josh Hutcherson and tried one of their famous Italian Special sandwich. Definitely worth the $11 but you'll probably want to split it with someone. Or just take a rest after eating it all. On this tour we tried their arancini/rice balls. If you're not familiar with them, an arancini is rice and cheese rolled into balls, breaded and fried. They get their name because they resemble little oranges, or arancina, in Italian.

They're famous for their rice balls, but I was a bit underwhelmed. Maybe I need more herbs or spices, but they were sorta blah. 

                69 7th Ave S (between Commerce St and S 7 Ave)
                New York, NY 10014
I've been dreaming about this pizza since we sampled it. Apparently the secret to their delicious thin-crust is that instead of rolling the dough out on standard flour, it's a mixture of Parmesan cheese and herbs. We sampled their famous Nonna Maria, named after the owner's grandmother, which has homemade marinara sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, olive oil and fresh garlic. 

Location: Bantam Bagels
                283 Bleecker Street (between Jones St and Commerce St)
                New York, NY 10014
Famously introduced to the world via Shark Tank, Bantam Bagels are the bagel version of doughnut holes injected with various fillings. Our guide warned us to look for the hole in the bagel where they injected the filling and bite there, otherwise the filling will squirt out all over you. I did not listen. And sadly we didn't think to get a picture before I cleaned myself off. I was really looking forward to that cheddar dijon cream cheese filling in my pretzel bagel. There was still a little left but overall, it was a let down. Besides big grains of salt on top it didn't remind me much of a pretzel nor did it have a bagel taste. I was hoping it would be like Usinger's delicious pretzel buns if anything. This was one of two places where we went in ourselves and bought what we wanted, I'd skip this in the future.

Location: Sugar and Plumm
                257 Bleecker Street (between Leroy St and Cornelia St)
                New York, NY 10014
Our last stop was for dessert of course. This was a sort of free for all stop where you could buy whatever you wanted, no set samples. Surprisingly I wasn't feeling the sweets but they put out little samples of their red velvet cupcakes and brownies, and those were delicious. A friend lives near the location on the Upper West Side and said their fishbowl sundae was amazing, but you definitely need a few people to eat it. 

Again, if you're visiting or just want to find something cheap and fun to do, I'd definitely suggest Free Tours by Foot. Besides the Greenwich Village Food Tour they also have one for the Lower East Side, a ghost tour, Gramercy Thrift and Vintage, a street art tour, and many many more.