Too Thrifty Chicks

Think.Thrift.Create


Leave a comment

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


5 Comments

Blogging While Brown: A Revelation

IMG_5535

Reese and Ricks on the Brooklyn Bridge with the Manhattan Bridge behind us.

If you read us last Friday, then you know that we were back in the Big Apple for our first Blogging While Brown Conference.

The conference was a two-day event that featured a bonus business of blogging series with presentations put on by some of the biggest named, brown bloggers in the business including Luvvie Ajayi of AwesomelyLuvvie.com and Necole “Bitchie” Kane of Necolebitchie.com.

PhotoGrid_1371848837368

We love Story Corps!

But since we were balling on a budget (Hello, Operation Do Better!), we opted to participate in just one day of the conference. And the truth of the matter is, we decided to opt out of the rest of the conference after lunch mostly because we were way oversaturated with information. It also seemed wrong to spend a perfectly lovely day inside.

We made a few great contacts and learned a lot of amazing things about leveling up in the blogosphere, but we also learned at least one very important thing: we are so good with being the best little blog that most no one has ever heard of.

Yes. You read that right. We spent money on a conference to tell us something we probably knew intutively, but needed the universe to confirm explicitly. Too Thrifty Chicks is a lot of things, but a business/brand it ain’t. At least not at a very deliberate, on purpose level.

We learned we do not want a million followers. We’re not going to turn anybody away, but that is not why we started this blog. We started this blog to share our passions for frugal and sustainable living with like minded and interested individuals. We also started this blog because we love to think, write and create.

PhotoGrid_1371867446791

This is how we skipped the White Party.

As we listened to the excellent presentations about branding and monetizing, we realized that we are our brand and our brand is us. What that means to us is this: we don’t ever want to make you feel like you don’t actually know us, or that you are getting some facade that isn’t who we are in real life.

And that’s no shade to anyone in the industry who wants the recognition, the fame and the fortune that can come from this work. We just know that for us, those things are bonuses, potential perks, but not the driving force behind why we do what we do.

While we don’t share our entire lives with you all, we do share a lot and we believe that you like it that way. Regardless of what opportunities and even monetary benefits might come our way, we don’t plan to change how we interact with you, nor do we plan to let just any old body — individual or company — be a part of this experience.

We’ll be making some improvements around here, but the Too Thrifty Chicks aren’t trying to fix it, if it ain’t broke.

Until next time,

R&R


Leave a comment

Throwback: NYC in B&W

We’re back home from a great NYC trip where the weather, bubble tea, and chicken and waffles made us so happy! If you remember, it snowed during our last trip. We made the best of the dreary weather then, but the universe was kind this go ’round. We had perfect temperatures for walking and exploring. We’ll share thoughts and photos from our recent trip later this week, but before we do that, we thought it would nice to share some of our black and white photos from March. ~R&R

"Me We." Studio Museum, Harlem, NY.

“Me We.” Studio Museum, Harlem, NY.

Snow, snow go away. Photo by M. Ricks, March 2013.

Snow, snow go away. Photo by M. Ricks, March 2013.

Change is Gonna Come. Studio Museum, Harlem, NY.

Change is Gonna Come. Studio Museum, Harlem, NY.

IMG_3054

Lay Still. Photo by A.Reese, March 2013.

The Pursuit of Knowledge. Photo by M. Ricks, March 2013.

The Pursuit of Knowledge. Photo by M. Ricks, March 2013.

Written on a building in Brooklyn, NY.

Written on a building in Brooklyn, NY.

IMG_2879

Question Everything. Photo by A. Reese, March 2013.

IMG_2875

Fire Behind Her Eyes. Photo by A.Reese, March 2013.


6 Comments

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


Leave a comment

Food for Thought Friday: Just Go With It

We’d been anticipating NYC since December….seriously. If you visit the thrifty palace, there’s a dry erase bubble with all our 2013 trips, and NYC was at the top of the list. Photo Mar 07, 2 27 47 PM

So you can imagine how we felt when we checked the weather a week before the trip only to discover rain and snow in the forecast! Maybe it will change, we thought. Hmmmm. Not so much. It rained and snowed pretty much the whole time we were there.Photo Mar 06, 7 43 28 AM

We’ll admit it. We’re bask-in-the-sunshine type girls. When it’s raining, we’re more likely to curl under our favorite blankies and watch movies or read. That was NOT going to happen in NYC. We were so determined to have a great time…and we did! We treated each day like a 9 to 5. We walked and walked….and when it rained on our first full day in NYC, we pulled out our umbrellas and kept it movin’. When we woke up to snow the next day, we went to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, ate chicken and waffles (again), drank bubble tea (again), and walked around Times Square.

Our trip could have been dampered by the rain and snow, but we made a conscious choice not to let it get us down. Reese Photo Mar 06, 9 56 31 PMwas feelin’ a bit ill on day 2, but even that couldn’t stop the show. The thrifty chicks have a motto that we adopted a while ago: just go with it. We say it often as a reminder that we can’t always control everything around us, so why not just go with the flow? We did that in NYC….and we’re glad we did. We did a little shopping, a lot of walking and laughing, and created some fun memories. Hopefully it won’t be raining next time we go, but if it does….we’ll just go with it and focus on the experience and not the things beyond our control.