Too Thrifty Chicks

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Destination Brooklyn: A Too Thrifty Day Trip

Me waiting for the bus to Union Station, New Haven.

Waiting for the bus to Union Station. IPhone has dope filters.

One of the clear advantages of living in New England is how accessible NYC is. Y’all already know that Reese and I love the Big Apple. (Read about that here and here.) But I had never taken a solo trip.

Truth be told if it weren’t for Google maps, I don’t know that I would have had the brass to go it alone. I mean, come on son. The NYC subway is mad confusing (at least to me). And compared to taking the Metro in the DMV? Fuhgettaboutit.

But I was getting crazy cabin fever in New Haven after the coldest, longest winter of my life and I promised myself a solo day trip just as soon as there was a beautiful weekend.

I wanted to accomplish two, maybe three, things: I wanted to have lunch at Smorgasburg; I had to get to the Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum; and I had to find the place where I bought these earrings that I so loved (and thought I had lost) from some random flea market-type shop that Reese and I had visited on one of our last trips to the city.

So on the last weekend of the exhibit, I hopped a Metro-North train and headed into the city.

Rocking one of my favorite pair of pants.

Rocking one of my favorite pair of pants.

The universe must have approved of my decision because I could not have asked for more excellent weather.

Pro-tip: It’s easier to get to NYC from New Haven than it is to get from New Haven to Hartford. Yes. As in Hartford, Connecticut which is in the same state and only about 40 minutes away. (Read about my transportation woes here.) Metro-North will get you to NYC in about two and a half hours. Round trip will cost you about $34. And the trains run incredibly regularly, so even if you get on the train a little later than you intended like I did, there is probably another one leaving in 15 or 30 minutes.

NYC bound on Metro North.

NYC bound on Metro North.

I arrived at Grand Central Station at just after noon, which is perfect because the absolute first thing I wanted to do was get my eat on. My friend Google maps let me know what trains I needed to take, and I headed straight to Brooklyn. I glanced in Brooklyn Flea, but gorgeous weather = ridiculous crowds, so I kept it movin’ because delicious food was on the agenda.

Pro-tip: Yo, Smorgasburg draws massive crowds. Bring cash, or do what I did and stand in a seriously long line at the ATM. No Bueno.

After I got my cash, I headed inside of what, to someone like me, is food paradise. Y’all should know this, but I really love food. And my favorite way to explore a place is through my tastebuds and stomach.

I wouldn't say the food was orgasmic, but it was tasty.

I wouldn’t say the food was orgasmic, but it was tasty.

There were so many options. And trust and believe, you will stop random strangers and ask, “Hey, where did you get that?” People were walking by with delicious looking barbecue, but the line was so ridiculous that I kept walking.

But then like a beacon: Buttermilk (Channel) Fried Chicken, or BFC, was my new BAE. Yasss! Not better than my g-ma’s fried chicken, but still tasty. (I mean really, can anybody cook chicken better than your g-ma?) I needed something with which to wash all this hot, delicious, crunchiness down. Agua fresca de sandia you say? Sold. Mexican corn, you say? Sí, por favor. I ate all this yummy deliciousness. Yes I did.

BK7And with this view? I was happy as a pig in mud. And my stomach was full.

So, I really did wander around Brooklyn thinking I could find this little shop, that I’m pretty sure was set up in a temporary space the last time I was in Brooklyn. Reese and I had come up to see the Kara Walker installation at the former Domino Sugar factory. I probably wandered for a good hour and a half before I gave up, and decided I had to get to the museum before it closed.

BK8As was the case at Smorgasburg, the lines at the museum were crazy. I was incredibly close to buying a membership to the museum, just so I would never have to stand in that line again. I still might. For $60 you get free admission for a year, and all these other bennies! Considering that the suggested donation is about $17, the membership pays for itself in about three and a half visits. I’m pretty sure I would use it. I’ve already got my heart set on attending The Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibit that will be there through Oct. 4.

So once I was tagged and released into the wild of the museum, I found the wait to be worth my while.

BK10Kehinde Wiley is renown for his portraiture, but when I tell you his sculpture is everything. I mean EVERYTHING. I loved how, in his hands, the every day became regal and extraordinary.

BK11A bonus treat: The notebooks of Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat are part of an exhibit that has been on display since April. It’s called Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. I was aware of Basquiat, but truth be told I didn’t know much about his work. His notebooks were fascinating in part because of their lack of pretension.

All of his notebooks were those old school black and white composition notebooks. Check it out and share your thoughts about it on social media using: #basquiatnotebooks. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and stayed in the museum until just after closing.

My contacts were so dry in this photo, but I was looking fierce.

My contacts were so dry in this photo, but I was looking fierce.

I took the train back to somewhere near Brooklyn Flea. The sun was getting low in the sky by this point, and of course, I was starting to get hungry again. After schlepping around the neighborhood, trying to make my mind remember some of the landmarks that were near the place I had purchased my earrings — the old factory site, the juice bar that was next door to the shop, etc. — I gave up and went into a little mini-mall that was one of the first places we did stop the last time we were in Brooklyn.

Though they didn’t have the beloved pair that I thought I had lost (and eventually found behind my dresser), I did find two other pairs that I liked and that was good enough for me! It was time to eat.

Real talk, there are so many sit down food options in Brooklyn it can be hard to choose. The only thing I knew for certain was that I didn’t want any fried chicken (Duh!) and I didn’t want pizza. New Haven has my pizza heart and I seriously don’t think I can ever eat pizza anywhere else again. Seriously. Pizza in New Haven is legendary and delicious. Period.

But I love Korean food and when I spotted a place that was doing a contemporary take on Korean food, and had their windows flung open to the street, I was like, in my best Usher-voice, “Yeah!”

This is the only picture I had in my phone because when the food came, I didn't look up until it was gone!

This is the only picture I had in my phone because when the food came, I didn’t look up until it was gone!

The place: Suoj Korean Gastropub. The time: Super Happy Hour at around 6 p.m. The Food: Yummy.

I had these amazing little steamed buns (that would have been more amazing if the waitress had written down my order and brought me the right ones, grr); my first Korean beer (not bad at all); and the Soju fries, which were poutine-esque with delicious braised short rib and melted cheese. (Yasss! Get in my belly).

With the sun going down and the chill picking up, I hopped a train and headed back to Grand Central Station, so I could make the trek home. I stopped at an outpost of Junior’s Most Fabulous Cheesecakes and Desserts for a coffee (now pronounced: caw-fee) and saw that they had red velvet cupcakes. You already know. I got one for the road.

#nomnomnom!

#nomnomnom!

The perfect end to a near perfect day. I probably spent about $150, and could have spent much less if I had skipped the jewelry and the Uber home from the train station, but I don’t mess around when it comes to Union Station at night.

And I only got on the wrong train in NYC twice the whole day. I’d call that a win.

– Ricks

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When Less is More: Thoughts on a Minimalist Life Pt. 1

I must admit I came to minimalism through tragedy.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my mother was diagnosed with early onset dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. Part of dealing with her diagnosis has been dealing with her stuff: her house, her physical personal belongings, her finances.

I discovered that my mom, retired Army veteran, lover of all media, homeowner and divorcee had an overwhelming amount of stuff! Honestly, if she wasn’t so neat and tidy, I would call her a borderline hoarder.

And I, her only child, had to dive in, when she couldn’t.

The experience of going through her house — our house — and trying to decide what to do with it all broke me down. I cried. Sobbed in fact. I was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff, but also by the memories.

At some point in the process I realized my mama wasn’t ever going to live in her house again. She had no need of all of the things she had accumulated over her now 58 years of life. Me, her only daughter? I haven’t lived in the same city longer than four years. Ever. I’m a nomad, at home every where and no where. Where would I put all this stuff if I kept if for nostalgia’s sake? I don’t have a house and the way this journalism thing is set up, I might never have one.

I’m still dealing with what to do with my mama’s stuff. It’s come a long way since that very first time I went through it, but the process continues. Dealing with her stuff forced me to have a come to Jesus meeting with myself about my own stuff. I had questions.

  • Why did I continue to drag things from my imagined life of living in a permanent space into my actual life of living in temporary spaces?
  • Did I place more value on “owning” a thing, rather than on its function in my life?
  • What would happen to my self-worth, self-esteem if I gave a lot of it away?

These are questions that I am still trying to answer.

In the beginning

When I got my first full-time gig at The Tuscaloosa News, I was stoked. And I wanted a grown up apartment to go with my new job. I did no math. Rent in Tuscaloosa and Alabama can be cheap. I would not discover until two years later how cheap it could be. All I knew was that I could get a whole townhouse for less than $500 a month. But a whole house needs furniture, right? And decorations, and, and, and…..

Yeah. That was a thing. Until I realized how much money I did — or rather, didn’t — make. I had to move to a less expensive apartment across town and try to get my mid-20 something head around the dismal state of my finances. I moved from Tuscaloosa, Ala. to Sarasota, Fla. in 2005, for a job that paid more, but I couldn’t afford to take my stuff, which I’ moved to Georgia. The re-location money wouldn’t cover getting all that stuff to Florida and I was broke. I also didn’t have a place to put it. This was Florida, pre-housing bubble bursting. Apartments were being converted to condos and rents were outrageous compared to Tuscaloosa.

Instead, I shared space with great roommates until I moved to Anniston, Ala. for graduate school a year later. I was moving toward minimalism mostly by circumstance, and a little by choice. I lived for three years without most of my stuff. I told my mama to keep what she wanted for her daycare and sell/giveaway the rest. I was on the road to Montgomery, Ala. vowing to never, ever accumulate that much stuff again.

A broken vow

While I never accumulated a house full of furniture again — Reese can attest to this — I still managed to amass a closet full of clothes, kitchen supplies and books. Oh, and there were the huge pieces of art that I had been dragging around since my summer internship in Zambia, circa 2001! And did I mention the heavy, vintage typewriter? Yeah. That was a thing. My house was mostly a statement in minimalism, but it also didn’t feel like home. It felt empty. Disconnected. I knew I wanted less stuff, but I didn’t have the language to talk about it when everything about growing up seemed to be about getting more stuff.

Two steps forward, two steps back

I got to test these questions again when I moved to the DMV. I left Montgomery, Ala. with only what I could fit into a two-door, 1997 Saturn SC2. Clothes, kitchen supplies, books. I was jammed in that car like toes in too small shoes. And still I ended up leaving a lot of things behind at a good friend’s house.

Though I had successfully managed to give away a ton of stuff, I still couldn’t bear to part with anything more. I mean, for goodness sake, I got my book collection down to four small banker’s boxes. Who does that? I vowed to purchase a Kindle and to never physically turn a page again.

And then I met Reese. This girl loves books. When she became my roommate, she came with books. Her books reminded me how much I enjoyed reading. How much I enjoyed turning a physical page and devouring a book in a 24-hour period. Her books reminded me how good it feels to walk into a book store, especially in Washington, D.C.

Our nation’s capital is home to Sankofa Video, Books and Cafe, The Children of the Sun, Busboys and Poets and Kramerbooks & Afterword Cafe. Not to mention thrift stores where you can find out of print books dirt cheap. (True story: I purged my suitcase while in Memphis because I bought books at a thrift store. Reese still had to bring some of them when she last came to visit.)

Ahh, glorious books. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for Operation Do Better, we would have spent every dime we made on books. The public library near our house, saved our pocket books to be sure.

But then it was time to move. And we both realized that in creating a home together, we had managed to amass a lot of stuff. That troubled the minimalist spirit that had developed in my heart from all my previous moves. Orchestrating a move is not my most favorite thing in the world, even though I have moved a lot in my 35 years. (Hello, Army brat.). I felt it whenever we visited friends, who had these spry, carefully edited apartments. Nothing more, nothing less. We had created an amazing space, but it was starting to feel like too much. Moving helped us both realize just how much it was.

Throw it out

When a friend posted a great article that encouraged us to throw everything away, ish got real. We jumped on a challenge to intentionally get rid of three or four things every day for 30 days. Because I was in transition, I had to modify the challenge. But I’m happy to say that by the time I unpacked my last box at my new space in New Haven, I managed to purge about 200 items over the last month.

While my stuff is still a little bit more than is necessary, it’s not much more, and that feels right. I learned while living with Reese what it means to create a space with intention, and I believe I have achieved minimalism without sacrificing comfort in my new place. I have some thoughts about how to ensure that I continue to travel light and ready for new adventure that I will share in another post.

So, I’ll leave you with these additional question to ponder: If you had an opportunity to pick up your life and move it to another country, state, city would your stuff hold you back? Would you chuck it all for the experience of a lifetime?

My courageous line sister recently did it. Check out her story and blog chronicling her adventures teaching abroad.

Do you consume, therefore you are? Share your thoughts on minimalism in the comments below.

-Ricks


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Forward, Not Forgotten

I took down the photo of me and my big sister who I consider a role model. The picture of my mom wearing a sombrero on her birthday a couple years back. The picture of me pretending to play drums with my mouth wide open because I’m laughing so hard. The black and white picture of me looking dwarfed next to the word “BELIEVE” painted on a wall, and the photo of Ricks and me displaying satisfied, mimosa-induced smiles after her birthday brunch last year. Then finally, the photos of friends-turned-family tacked to a tiny board behind my desk. It is my last day of work, and it is official. I am moving to Memphis for a new job.I am SO glad I don’t share an office or work in a cubicle, because I had a good ol’ cry session this morning.

 

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I have to admit. This is hard. D.C. is the first home that has felt like home; a place where I feel like I could live permanently. And even as I type that, I remember the essence of a quote from Dr. Maya Angelou where she says she doesn’t believe that one can never go home again, because you always carry home with you.

Well, since I can’t carry ALL of the D.C. with me, I’ll carry a few things: memories of late night/early morning conversations, new friends that feel like soul mates, wine-filled nights, tattoos, and bonding. I’ll carry the person I am into a new adventure that will continue to shape the person I’m becoming.

And I’ll remember today when I said to a group of my friends, “I am having a hard day,” and they all responded with loving reassurance (and feigned jealousy of my yet-to-be new friends)…actually, it might not be feigned. I have a whole list of “dos” and “donts” for my new friends…lol….and Keila, who is not a fan of Memphis (and that’s putting it mildly), finally said she will come visit me after months of saying she wouldn’t. Yes, Keila…I have it in writing and now EVERYONE knows you’re coming to Memphis.  Today, I am a little melancholy as I wrap up my time here, but I am happy and at peace with knowing that I live by the words  I surrounded myself with in my office, including these from The Angry Therapist:

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Memphis….another adventure. Join me, yes?

-A.Reese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Thrifty Travels: Traveling Light

The last two years of my life have been a whirlwind of travel that has taken me from the stark terrain of Afghanistan to the tall buildings and lights of Toronto. And the one thing that unifies those trips and all the places I’ve traveled in between those two trips is packing. IMG_7513

Packing is not my favorite past time, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it. So good in fact, that my friend Andria G. asked me, during our recent trip to Las Vegas, how I managed to get everything into the small tote that I brought. She asked me this while gazing at luggage that was hardly carry-on size.

There are a few simple rules that I live by and they haven’t failed me yet, even when I showed up for a business trip in Florida woefully underprepared for cold weather and had to make a few mad dashes to local Goodwills and a Walmart to get warmer clothes.

Rule #1: Checking bags is not an option. Real talk, airlines stay trippin’ with these bag fees. Some of them are now going so far as to charge for carry-on bags over a certain size. (I’m looking at you Spirit Airlines.)

Rule #2: Take only what you need. If you’re driving, this doesn’t matter as much, but I really hate over packing. Do you really need five pairs of shoes, or will two work? Why take up valuable real estate in your bag, or worse risk having to check a bag, because you think you’ll wear those shoes. Don’t do it. I’ve been known to overpack my make up supplies thinking I’m going to want to do a special face for a night out, I’ve learned this is a trap and have seriously streamlined the make-up I take.

Rule #3: Travel size everything. That clear, quart sandwich bag can hold a lot if you have nothing but travel size IMG_7535products. Even if you use fancy face and hair products, higher-end retailers like Sephora and Ulta typically sell what you need. Taxicab confession: I almost always take the travel size bath products that hotels provide and bring them home to stock my travel size products drawer. My dentist also always gives travel size toothpaste, so I’ve been stockpiling that for years.

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Rule #4: Mix and match. When it comes to packing I usually lay out outfits that go together and then I make sure that if I’m in the mood, I can mix every thing up and create entirely different outfits. Jeans can go from day to night by changing the top. A dress can be dressed up or down as long as it has a flattering shape and doesn’t require ironing. Jazz up an outfit with accessories, which you can bring a lot of without taking up too much space.

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Rule #5: Bring a cardigan or jacket. Airports and planes are notorious for being chilly. Bring a jacket. And if you don’t actually need to wear it, it makes a good travel pillow.IMG_7449

Bonus Tip: Get through security quick. I usually wear a jersey dress or leggings and a tank top to the airport because you usually have to get nearly naked to go through security these days.  Take off your jacket or cardigan before going through the scanner. Don’t wear any kind of metal jewelry or a belt because this is an automatic repeat trip through the scanner. Keep your plastic baggy full of travel size goodies in your hand so you don’t waste time taking them out of your bag.  And if you’re bringing your laptop go ahead and slip it out of its case too. I prefer slip-on shoes and toe socks because I want to take my shoes off quickly and I don’t really care for my bare feet touching the floor. Eww.

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Last but not least: Pack strategically. For me, packing is like playing Tetris. Every piece has its place and the more things fit together, the less likely you are to end up with footprints from shoes, or worse, hair product and toothpaste on your clothes. I prefer shoes in first, soles down or touching other shoes. Layer with make up bag, accessories bag, and night clothes. Layer everyday, walking around clothes and then follow with going out wear on top of the makeup/accessory bag layer, and just like that you’re packed and ready to go!

Hope this helps you lighten your load on your next trip!

— Ricks


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Hump Day Outtakes

As you can probably imagine, we take tons of photos. Here are some of our faves that didn’t make it into weekly posts. Enjoy!

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Post-Loc Cutting. February 2013

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Umm, I don’t think the car is going to move, Reese.

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Free me from these clothes!

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Wait. It’s cold. Cover me up!

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Safari Time!

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Ricks doing two of her favorite things: picking up rocks and admiring the view.

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Pre-Loc cut off. Enjoying a January day in the sun

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Showing off a soft, silky blouse and a sexy, serious eye.


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Around Town: Eastern Market

Faced with the prospect of spending Sunday on the couch — Reese is recovering from running the inaugural Ragnar Relay Trail race and I was just feeling blah post homemade waffles — we decided to shake off our lethargy, get our butts in gear and get out of the house.

OK, it didn’t actually happen like that. Reese cut my hair. I took a shower and she took a cat nap. I laid across my bed post-shower and Reese popped her head in my door to ask, “Are we really going out, or are we laying around the house?”

I’m pretty sure she was hoping I would say, “Let’s lay around the house.” But I was already dressed. <— See we love y’all enough to keep it REAL!

EasternMarket

We have been planning a trip to Eastern Market for a minute, but travel, work, life and our couch got in the way. We don’t apologize for erring on the side of chill mode. :: shrugs :: Being everywhere, all the time, really isn’t our ministry. :: shrugs again::

Eastern Market, is Washington, D.C.’s oldest continually operating fresh food public market, according to its website. Not only can you get fresh ReeseShaggyDogproduce, straight from the farm, but you will find a plethora of unique arts and crafts that you will want to take home. In the past — as in before Operation Do Better — we purchased jewelry, handmade soap and other odds and ends that we probably didn’t need, but never regret buying. You’ll also find amazing street food at Eastern Market like we did on this trip.

We broke one of our cardinal rules and went to Eastern Market hungry. We were so hungry, in fact, that the trail mix and peanut butter crackers we were noshing did not do the trick, so our first order of business was to get some grub. Our noses led us to one stand in particular that was serving up all things Indian food. Reese and I love Indian food and figured if the gentleman manning the station was making whatever he was cooking — it turned out to be veggies, butter chicken, lamb and chick peas — smell like that, we had just found our lunch.

IndigoSign2We learned that those mouth watering aromas and the food we ultimately inhaled — lamb over rice, in case you were wondering — is going to be front and center in a sit-down restaurant called Indigo DC. The owners, a husband and wife team, built up their business, their clientele, and apparently their confidence to go from street vending to providing a full-on dinning experience. All we can say is, “Right on!”The restaurant is slated to open at the end of June at 243 K Street, N.E. Washington, D.C. (Click the hyperlink to follow Indigo DC on Facebook and follow them at Twitter @INDIGO DC. We sure will!)

As we scarfed down our lunch, we discovered a truth: It’s warm outside and we want to spend money on the weekends. The Lambreality is, the strict no-spending limits we were able to impose in the winter have kind of flown out the window. Most of it has to do with the fact that we’ve reached a lot of our financial goals, which we will talk about at the beginning of July. The other IndigoSign1part centers on the fact that there’s no crappy weather to keep us indoors. We’re either going to spend that additional money on air conditioning, or we’re going to spend it outside the house. But reality is we’re going to spend it, so we might as well plan for it. We’re still going to cook our weekday meals, take our lunch and eat at home, but we’re going to give ourselves some wiggle room on the weekend fun budget.

We decided to put this experiment to the test right away. While we were at Eastern Market we put a $20 cap on our spending which meant, at $12 a piece, lunch almost wiped us out. But the universe smiled on us. As we were making our way through the market again, we noticed that vendors were starting to put away their wares and close up shop. It was almost 5 p.m. and little did we know that the most miraculous thing was about to happen. Produce Produce1vendors from Dunham’s Farms had an everything must go sale — cantaloupes, cartons of strawberries and peaches, all for $1! We went home with  fruit galore for $7.  Peach and strawberry pies are in the works and so is a summer sangria with drunken cantaloupe — that’s another story for another day, trust us. We had just enough Moo-la left for some fro-yo, capping off a lovely afternoon.  We hope you had a great weekend and spent some time around your town.

Until next time,

R&R

How was your weekend? Did you go anywhere especially cool? Is it some place we should visit? Post a comment and let us know, or hit us up on Facebook.

Ricks2 FroYo Ricks


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Too Thrifty Chicks Travel: The NYC Edition

NYC

After diligently devoting ourselves to scrimping, saving, paying off debt and not spending on wants, we treated ourselves to a trip to the Big Apple. And we had a blast! No, literally it was a cold blast of winter. Brr!

For months, we’d planned to take a super cheap bus up to New York and stay with a friend during our seriously low cost adventure. After all, we are the Too Thrifty Chicks — no first class flights and four stars for us unless someone else is paying!

When the time finally rolled around for our trip we were pumped. We had visions of traipsing around the city under clear skies and skyscrapers, taking pictures, hitting up thrift stores, partying and people watching in balmy, but still chilly air.

Our visions and realities never even got in waving distance of one another, but we didn’t let a nasty bout of overcast skies, rain and eventually snow destroy this long anticipated trip. With our umbrellas in hand and our motto, “Just go with it,” guiding us we had a ton of fun.

Walking 9-to-5

Because of the icky weather we definitely didn’t explore as much of the city as we would have liked, but we certainly got to know Harlem and Brooklyn a little better. Our first night, fresh off the bus, weNYC Night 1 hustled hard to have dinner with our friend at the most fabulously, awesome Amy Ruth’s for the chicken and waffles that we had been thinking about the entire ride up. The waffles are so light, the fried chicken so crispy and the staff so nice, all we can say is this was the perfect start to our adventure.

The next day at about 9, we hopped on the subway and stopped first in Times Square were the bright lights and the smell of new stuff drew us in for a little look. That’s probably about where the plans for a frugal NYC adventure went off the rails a little bit.

Budget? What budget?

So Reese and I had this grand plan. We were going to try to do NYC on the smallest of budgets we could imagine: $250 to $300. Because we’re on this Operation Do Better train, we know that what we value most is experience, not stuff, so we convinced ourselves that we were only going to spend money on food, drink and access to the things that we wanted to experience. And we weren’t planning to spend a ton on eating out because a) we had access to a kitchen at our friend’s apartment and b) we are not opposed to eating pizza or from food trucks, which would keep our expenses low. Boy were we naive!

Reality Check

NYC1While we did in fact save money on food because we mostly ate at local spots in Harlem, but we soon realized that shopping in NYC is part of experiencing the city. And on that first day, we definitely indulged in some  retail therapy at Sephora, Forever 21 and Uniqlo. Before we could do anymore damage we hopped a train to Chinatown for a deliciously inexpensive lunch of dumplings and noodles. We also stopped and promptly fell in love with our first taste of bubble tea at Kung Fu Tea.

With our bodies revived, we braved the weather once again and took the train to Brooklyn so that we could head into the Williamsburg neighborhood to check out the thrifty shops its known for. The whipping wind blew us into a little boutique called Rabbits and eventually to a thrift store called Junk, where we pulled out our wallets one more time, then called it a day. We had dinner at a Latin American restaurant called Ecuatoriana, that served gigantic portions of their seafood soup, shrimp and garlic with rice and plantains.

NYC2Day 2 brought more cold and rain, but at 9 a.m. we were ready to hit the streets and headed over to The Studio Museum in Harlem. Our main purpose for scheduling our trip for the time that we did was so that we could catch the Gordon Parks exhibit before it ended. Reese is a freelance photographer and I’m a budding amateur and we love Mr. Parks’ work. We really enjoyed the exhibit, but were pretty bummed that the museum has a strict, no photos allowed policy, that we think they should consider changing. On our way to the museum, we dashed into a GAP outlet store and the MAC store, but left empty handed — though it wasn’t for a lack of trying. By this time, our stomachs were staging a revolt, so we hoofed it over to an amazing crêperie called Crepes on Columbus were we chowed down on savory crêpes and a sweet one with Nutella and strawberries. We kept it light for dinner with pizza slices and lentil soup at a local spot close to our home away from home. Yum!

Our third and final day, we braved the snow to go back to Amy Ruth’s for more chicken and waffles (judge away) and then to the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture to see the Africans in India and the Visualizing Emancipation exhibits. After seeing the Gordon Parks exhibit, the Visualizing Emancipation exhibit, which was largely based on old photos that date back to slavery, was like watching a story told in reverse.

We also dropped into the Schomburg Center’s book store for a book and some postcards that will become part of an art project really soon. I still had two things that I wanted before I left NYC: a charm for my bracelet and a replacement of my favorite MAC lipstick and liner. So we headed back to Times Square where we were able to pick up my “if you don’t get them here, you can’t go buy them when we get home” -most wanted items. We then headed back to Chinatown for more bubble tea and then back to the apartment to collect our stuff just in time to have more pizza slices and wait, and wait for megabus to take us home.

Whew! It was a great trip and we can’t wait to return in the warmer months!

— R&R