Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Village Gate Sign

I saw this interesting little sign above a CVS while on a lunch time walk this week, and thought you might like to see it. It's for the Village Gate, a nightclub that operated on the spot from 1958-1994.

From Atlas Obscura:

The Bleecker Street sign in Greenwich Village for the legendary music venue The Village Gate still stands, though the venue closed in 1993.

Art D'Lugoff, the impressario on the sign, was the owner of the Village Gate from its opening in 1958 until its final closing in 1993. The sign still displays two placards, not from the Gate's final night as you might expect, but two of D'Lugoff's personal favorites, Jacques Brel and Penny Arcade.

The Village Gate was a pivotal venue in the village music scene, having hosted shows for Jacques Brel, Bob Dylan, Richrd Pryor, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Byrd, Thelonious Monk, and tons more.

I'd stumbled into the theatre-building Rite Aid a few years ago, so it's interesting to see how many clubs have been turned into pharmacies. The lower level of this club continues as a performance venue, Le Poisson Rouge.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fiscal Friday - Budgeting Since April

One of my goals this year was to be more fiscally responsible and to get my finances in order. I've been keeping a secret(ish) Tumblr to help me along (and to teach myself to use Tumblr), but I don't think that's the best forum for personal finance blogs, and now that I know how to use it, I feel comfortable returning to the safety of Blogger.

Hopefully some of you will find my financial updates helpful, but if you totally hate them, I promise not to post more than once a week (if that) about it, on Fiscal Fridays. More likely, it will just be a couple times a month. And, of course, while we dive into it, please remember that personal finance is just that - deeply personal, and deeply situational. I hope that some of my successes and stumblings will be helpful to you, but please don't compare yourself to me. We all have different situations (I have no student loans, but live in an extremely high cost-of-living city) and we're all doing the best we can. Go easy on yourself. And please, go easy on me!

To catch us up, here are all my Progress Reports from the past few months. I track everything on, and have recently been using a cash budget for my spending money. The income you see here is income for me, personally. It doesn't count any money that goes into retirement with my employer, or the $1000 I put into our joint savings each month (which pays for rent, utilities, and groceries). Of the money I take home each month, about half goes into savings: a Roth IRA ($458), a mutual fund account for my down payment savings ($200), and my SmartyPig accounts for an emergency fund ($75) and travel ($50). Also the past three months have been higher than usual because I haven't put any money into my employer sponsored retirement plan this summer, in order to save extra money for our upcoming trip to India. In general, $1,200 is my usual pay, and I try to spend about $300 in cash each month, though it has usually been closer to $400.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Best New York City Novels by Neighborhood

Have you seen this very cool map of books by New York City neighborhoods? Nancy Aravecz of the NYPL (perennial purveyor of my book supply) put it together and I just love it. If you're planning a trip to the city any time soon, you may want to have a look at this and see if you can visit the settings of any of your favorite books.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cooking with Kristin - Jalapeño and Jam Grilled Cheese

Sweet and Spicy Jalapeño and Jam Grilled Cheese

I've made this amazing grilled cheese a few times this week, and posted it on Instagram yesterday, and enough people asked for the recipe that I think it was worth sharing. It's based on my favorite grilled cheese at South, a bar near our apartment. They also do one with chorizo and no jam, which I'm sure is also delicious. This is sweet and spicy and the perfect easy addition to your basic grilled cheese. Enjoy!

Jalapeño and Jam Grilled Cheese (adapted from South)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 slices of bread (any type you like, but I'd avoid seeds or grains here - I like honey wheat best)
  • 3 slices of American cheese (yellow or white is fine)
  • 1/2 a pickled jalapeño, sliced (you can find these canned in the same aisle as green chilies)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of strawberry jam

Place a slice and a half of cheese on one slice of bread. Sprinkle chopped jalapeño peppers on top of the cheese. Place the other slice and a half on top of the peppers, then top with the second slice of bread.

Fry that baby up on medium in a 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter until it's golden brown, then pick it up with a spatula and add another 1/2 tablespoon of butter before flipping it over. Once both slices are golden brown and your cheese is all melty, you're all set.

Put it on a plate, and spread on two or three tablespoons of strawberry jam. Slice in half on the diagonal and serve with ridged potato chips and a cold drink.

(In the recipe above, I'm assuming you know how to make grilled cheese. If not, visit Grilled Cheese Social for some tips and tricks. The main trick is to use a lot of butter.)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Northern Dispensary

Wandering around at lunch the other day, I noticed this interesting and empty building near the corner of Grove and Christopher Streets.

A bit of research into it informs me that it was a medical (and eventually a dental) clinic, built in 1831. In 1837, Edgar Allan Poe, who lived nearby, was treated here for a cold. The building is triangular (you can see some better pictures on Forgotten NY's walking tour of the area) to fit its odd plot of land.

It's called the Northern Dispensary because in 1831, it was actually a more northern area of the city. The idea of that is so interesting to me - what old New York looked like, and how unimaginable it is today. In 1846, when Poe moved to the Bronx, he was really moving out into the country!

The building was purchased by William Gottlieb in 1998, but remains unused because its 19th century property deed stipulates that the building must be used for the care of the poor and infirm. He seems to have been quite the interesting businessman, buying up properties and then sitting on them, and this one is no exception. For a fascinating look at deed restrictions and historic buildings, check out this New York Times article about the building from 2011. Quite the story behind this unassuming building!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Hess Triangle

I took a quick lunchtime walk to The Hess Triangle. I'd walked past it before, but never really looked at it, so it was fun to pause near it for a bit.

Have you heard of this little spot? It's on the corner of Christopher Street and 11th Avenue South, and it's a little plaque in honor of David Hess, who owned an apartment building on the spot in the 1910s. The city commandeered it with eminent domain, and took all but this one small triangle of space. The plaque was put up in 1922, and in 1938, the cigar store behind it bought it for $1000.

If you want to learn more or see pictures of the cigar store, there are great articles about it up at Scouting NY and Roadside America.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Lefferts Historic House Museum

Last Saturday, R and I found ourselves with a bit of extra free time, and decided to cross off the last Brooklyn historic house on our list, the Lefferts Historic House Museum. (Unfortunately, the fourth house on the list, the Hendrick I. Lott House, is closed to the public right now. But maybe if we ask real nice the HHTNY will let us visit?) The house was built as a farmhouse in Flatbush by Pieter Lefferts in the 1780s, and was moved into Prospect Park in 1918. It opened as a museum in 1920, cared for by the Fort Greene chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

I'd actually visited the Lefferts Historic House Museum once before, in 2009, and I was pleased to see that it seems a lot of the house has been re-done and re-imagined since then. About half the house is dedicated to children, which I love, with historic games (including Nine Man Morris, which we'd seen carved into a stone in the basement of the Dyckman Farmhouse the weekend before) strewn about for them to play.


The kitchen, also, was interactive, with fake food in open-able ovens and a little display about textile production (which R. and I both loved, of course! I tried to show him how to use their drop spindle, but it turns out I've never been very good at spinning).

I really love historic houses that make a place for children, because I can imagine it might get a bit boring for them to look at old furniture all the time. I also thought the Lefferts House also did a nice job of weaving in a darker side of the house's history with references to slavery throughout. I think a lot of houses do their visitors an injustice by ignoring slavery in their educational materials and tours, so I was glad to see that the Lefferts House didn't shy away from it.

Of course, there was something for adults to take in, as well, with pretty excellent wall text describing the history of the house and how it was moved to its current location in Prospect Park. One of the parlors was furnished as if ready for a concert.

And, we were lucky enough to be able to visit the upstairs with one of the tour guides, even though it was technically closed for the day. I'm always so curious as to what the hidden parts of these houses look like, so I was pretty overjoyed when she said she would bring us up to see.

The lighting was dark, so I don't have many photos, but there was a furnished bedroom and two "museum rooms" upstairs. One was open storage (so cool!), while the other held a display of tea settings. It was so cool to see all three rooms, along with the curved ceilings above each of the windows, which allowed more natural light in than a normal ceiling wood.

And, the outside of the building was just as cool as the inside, with more games for kids to play (including old-fashioned stilts to walk on and hoops to roll), and a garden of local vegetables and herbs.

The house is very, very close to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and the Brooklyn Museum, so I hope you'll hop in for a quick visit the next time you're in Prospect Park!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Weekend Wanderings - The Konmari Method

This was our THIRD weekend in a row without any real plans and I think we're finally starting to get the hang out this relaxation thing. It was pretty glorious.

On Friday night, we went to Danielle's house to hang out with the kitten that I rescued/stole from my neighbor. (Um... she looked lost? And yes, I'm leaving him a note. And no, in the meantime, he doesn't seem too upset or anything.)

On Saturday, I decided to Konmari. Do you know about this? It is basically a super intense culling of your objects so that your house is tidy forever. Several friends have done it with pretty positive results, so I bought the e-book and devoured it in four train rides. You can read one of the many articles written about it to see how it works, but I found the in-depth detail of the book to be helpful, so it was definitely worth it for me.

This is my before pile, every item of clothing I own in this world, minus two coats and three gowns that are still at my parents' house. (I'm planning to keep the two coats and two of the three gowns.)

And this is my clothing life, post-Konmari. The clothes on the left are what I'm keeping (what bring me joy) and the clothes on the right are what I'm getting rid of. I've listed a few of the nicer things on eBay, but anything that doesn't sell will go to a clothing swap I'm hosting next weekend, and then ultimately to Housing Works.

I was surprised at how easy it was to start letting go of things, and I'm really looking forward to doing my books next. R. has started to curate one of our bookshelves, and because he has a way better eye for design than I do, it looks really beautiful. I'm shocked by how gorgeous it is every time I walk past it. I can't wait to see how nice our apartment looks when we're finally done and have gotten rid of everything!

That evening, we went to a friend's party where they had delicious tacos and a beautiful apartment.

And yesterday, we headed to the Upper East Side for some incredible brunch at the Vinegar Factory, which is half grocery, half restaurant, and all amazing. Everything was delicious, but I would especially recommend their cheese blintzes.

We were meeting up with R.'s former-professor-turned-friend and her husband, and we all sat talking for more than two hours before they really needed to head out on the rest of their road trip. We hadn't seen them in two years, but it was as if no time had passed, and it was really the highlight of the weekend.

After saying goodbye to them, we headed to the Met to check out the Sargent show, which I fell in love with. If you'll be in New York and you love portraits (or early 20th century writers/artists/actors), you should absolutely check it out before it closes this fall. I'm definitely planning to go back and revisit it, hopefully on a less crowded day!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Weekday Wanderings - IMPACT Conference

One of the nice things about working in higher ed is the opportunity to attend events at the university. Last week, my immensely talented friend, Erica, was presenting at a conference on campus with one of her colleagues, Martina, and I was lucky enough to sit in on their workshop, which talked about ways to bring movement and art into the classroom using inspiration from Keith Herring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

It was a blast doing the workshop with them, and I'm so glad I got to see Erica (and meet Martina!) while they were in New York.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hani Shihada - Hillary Chalk Drawing

I've noticed a few pieces by Hani Shihada in Washington Square Park lately. I'd never seen any before I started spending more time downtown, so when I noticed this one afternoon at lunch, I looked into Hani's work and saw more of the very cool sidewalk art he's created. It's pretty amazing what someone can do with just chalk and concrete.

Stumbling upon it this afternoon brought me joy, and I hope it brings you joy, too!