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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Around Town: 1st Annual FABULOUS Second-Hand/Vintage Clothing Pop Up Shop

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The Too Thrifty Chicks spent a beautiful Saturday at the 1st Annual FABULOUS Second-Hand/Vintage Clothing Pop-Up Shop put on by Fia’s Fabulous Finds.

Fia’s offers upscale, quality, brand name ladies’ clothing and accessories in new and nearly-new condition at prices significantly below department store levels.  The pop-up shop brought together more than 40 vintage and second-hand vendors and jewelers, including our friend Tasha at the Thrifted Closet, under one roof at The District Architecture Center.

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Tasha wedged into the crowded space, but ever cheerful.

We arrived about 15 minutes early and we’re pretty glad we did. The line to get in was quickly growing down the block. The first 50 people in the door also got a bag full of goodies that included special discounts. The District Architecture Center is a beautiful space, but by the time you add vendors, customers a DJ table and bartenders, it was more than a little crowded to say the least. No bueno for chicas like us who really aren’t good with crowds and tight spaces.

From what we could tell many of the vendors had a lovely selection of  clothes, shoes and accessories, but even if we’d been dressed appropriately to try things on, there really wasn’t any space to do that. At one point I was visiting a vendor near the DJ table and was really afraid that I was going to re-live that scene from House Party where Darryl “Chill” Williams keeps bumping the table and changing the song.

Reese refrained from buying anything, but I zeroed in on two vendors that gave me my entire life for the day. I was captivated by the coolest looking sunnies at the table of a vendor known as MissyKlectic, a dynamic duo of designers who support “brave fashion visionaries”. We dig that.

In addition to the cool shades, they had the cutest button earrings and bracelets. I ultimately opted for the sunglasses, which were $15 and  I LOVE them.

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Me and the most fabulous sunnies EVER. I took off the shades I was wearing because I wanted to wear these immediately.

Now the word “vintage” has always been a red flag for the Thrifty Chicks that means “expensive”. In fact, when we see it, we usually head in the opposite direction. We’re not big into labels, so we don’t really care who made it. If you’re going to charge anywhere near $50 for it, we probably won’t buy it.  And we didn’t, which is cool because we’re sure someone out there did. Pricing is an art and a science. That’s all I’ll say about that.IMG_5495

The next vendor I hit up was Patrice “Patty B” Boone of  The Prissy Tomboy and BTwenty3. Not only did she have amazing clothes, but she’s also a pretty great graphic designer. When I saw an acid wash, denim vest, which I have been hunting for some time, and a really cool vintage  jumpsuit, I knew I had to have both if the price was right. The jumpsuit was $27 and the vest was $9. The price was so right. Yes, please. You all will have to wait to see the clothes in a fashion post that we’ll do in the coming weeks.

All and all, we had a great and exhausting time at the 1st Annual FABULOUS Second-Hand/Vintage Clothing Pop Up Shop. The District Architecture Center is a lovely space, but likely better suited for a more intimate event.  We hope next year’s event will be in a much larger space.

Until next time.

— R&R

 

The many faces of Reese, post Pop Up shop madness!

The many faces of Reese, post Pop Up shop madness!


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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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R&R Around Town: Chicken Wings and Mumbo Sauce

A research participant once said to me:

“D.C. is east of the river. DC was Ben’s Chili Bowl [before it became popular]. D.C. is neighborhoods outside of the better known neighborhoods. D.C. is Mambo Sauce and Chicken Wings. D.C. is Go Go. DC is Carryouts. That’s D.C.”

The first time I heard about mumbo sauce was during an interview I was conducting for my dissertation. The interviewee asked, “Have you been put on to mumbo sauce yet?” I shook my head no, and he looked as if I had just cussed him out. “You need to try it.”

So Ricks and I did just that. A couple times in one weekend.

That weekend sparked our quest to discover “real D.C.” and to document it in this new series we’re calling “Around Town”. It will feature some of the fun, foolishness, and fashion we encounter as we explore.

Chicken Wings an Mumbo Sauce: A Taste of D.C. Culture

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Ricks and Reese stylin’ for Chicken Wings and Mumbo Sauce.

A friend turned us on to a free art exhibit that was happening last month called, “Chicken Wings and Mumbo Sauce.” The exhibit was developed in response to a widely publicized exhibit at the Corcoran called, “Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture in the 1980s.” The first exhibit featured local artists and the event’s namesake: chicken wings and mumbo sauce. It also helped kickoff our desire to really discover D.C.

What is mumbo sauce you ask? The short answer: no one really knows.

OK, people kinda know. It’s a condiment that every carryout in D.C. makes and is usually served with fresh-out-the-grease chicken wings. It’s a little different every where you go.

Some places make it spicier. Others make it sweeter, but ketchup and/or hot sauce seem to be the base ingredients. We were on a quest to sample this magical sauce that appears to be a part of growing up in The District.

We tried the mumbo sauce at the Chicken Wings and Mumbo Sauce event and honestly weren’t impressed — maybe because the chicken was cold and the sauce couldn’t do much to remedy that. Despite the cold chicken, we enjoyed the art, free beer, and general feel of the space. A diverse crowd vibin’ off each other’s energy. We dig it.

Pump Me Up: We Love Disco Dan!

The next day, we met up at the Corcoran to see the Pump Me Up exhibit. We wanted to see how the two compared to each other, plus admission to the event was FREE on the day we went. The exhibit was cool: posters, videos about go-go music, and an awesome mini-bio of Cool “Disco” Dan, a famed graffiti artist around these parts (who happens to be one of our new favorite people now, BTW).

IMG_4097 IMG_4093 IMG_4088Afterwards, we supported a friend who was speaking at a local university about food deserts in D.C. He dropped some serious knowledge about getting involved in communities and not making assumptions about the people you’re trying to help.  Of course we worked up an appetite, so we hopped in the car and drove from upper Northwest/Northeast DC to a carryout called Yum’s for one more round of chicken wings and mumbo sauce.

The wings and mumbo sauce from Yum’s was a nice way to finish off an exciting weekend. I don’t know if we were just super hungry or if it was really that good, but either way, there was nothing but clean bones left in those Styrofoam containers when we were done. IMG_4110

This was our first dive into deep exploration of “The Real D.C.” Not the Hill. Not the White House. Everything beyond and in between. The artwork at both exhibits was really cool. We dig go-go music, so it was nice to learn more of the history of it and see some of the awesome posters. IMG_4116

Chicken wings & mumbo sauce? Check! Now we’re off to try another adventure. Check in with us weekly during the month of May to see where our feet (and public transportation) have taken us and feel free to recommend a “Real D.C.” spot we should explore.

— R&R