Visiting Alternate Dimensions

Yesterday after work, my friend Maria and I were in need of an escape. From ourselves. From this planet. So we checked out VR World in midtown- a virtual reality arcade. It’s the largest on the planet, in their words.

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Checking into a Pixar-like animation about an old man who fixes broken dreams.

I’ve only slipped into VR a handful of times because I find it dangerously addictive and a little nauseating if I stay too long. This is definitely the future of gaming, entertainment and probably human living.

We walked in and were presented with three options, a 2 hour, all day and moveo access. A 2 hour pass was $40 so we went with that. Our wristbands allowed us to scan into the queue for games with our gamer tags. But we could only be in one queue at a time so if we scanned into one game and then went to another while we were waiting, it canceled out the first game. So it took some strategic planning on our part. Luckily, none of the lines were very long. Mostly we were able to scan right in and play.

VR World hosts over 50 experiences ranging from games to 360 movies and music videos. The “museum” on the mezzanine had several different experiences that allowed us to explore the planet or disappear into different stories from the comfort of swivel chairs so we didn’t risk wandering off down a flight a stairs.

We warmed up with a plank walking experience. It was freaky. We walked out onto a beam high above the city and then stepped off and fell to the sidewalk. My heart rate shot up to 84bpm from 60. Maria was also not a fan.

From there, we teamed up to take on some robots in a shooting game. It felt crazy. I screamed out loud when a robot snuck up behind me and I could SWEAR I felt one crawl over and grab my leg. I’m terrified of robots so that didn’t help, but I was astonishingly good at the game.

They also had Job Simulator, Rick and Morty Virtual Rickality, Zombie games, an archery game and so much more to explore. I’ll definitely go back next week to try out more experiences. It’s a great little escape in the middle of the realest city in the world.

 

 

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Favorite Places – 📖 The Strand Book Store 📚

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Even before I lived in NYC, The Strand was a mandatory stop on every trip. Now I’m lucky enough to live and work close enough to make this place and its 18 miles of books a regular hangout. When work is slow, I like to walk the single avenue that separates us and spend an hour surrounded by the smell of books, flipping through poems and letting the winding aisles draw me further into the paperback fantasyland.

Aside from any book you can imagine, The Strand carries tons of badass little tchotchkes. I love perusing the wall of pins, stickers and socks (I got my famous velociraptor socks there!). When I need a birthday card or thank you note, I’ve stopped going the generic Hallmark route because the selection of adorable indie-made greeting cards makes for a much more unique and thoughtful sentiment. My bullet journal is full of funky stickers. And you’re not a New Yorker unless you have at least one of their iconic tote bags.

Unfortunately, I can’t go in without spending at least $50. There are Moleskines as far as the eye can see! New poetry! I almost always end up picking up a staff recommendation. There’s a center cube of shelves full of staff picks, each with a photo of the employee and a handwritten reason why they love the book. They’re always an irresistible sell.

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It’s a great spot for celebrity sightings. They almost always have brilliant speakers, signings and events. Since April is National Poetry Month, they created the Poet-a-day Project. They build a little booth and have a new poet, every day of April in a “micro-residency” to get inspiration from the stacks and maybe write poems for passersby. This is one of my life goals!

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Fortunately, you can also sell your books back for some lunch money. Since my love of books is huge and my physical space is limited, I have a rule that for every book I buy, I have to sell or give one away. AND since I live and work so close, this cycle is endless.

If you want a random book from my collection sent to you, leave a comment or shoot me a DM.

 

 

Dessert Goals

Dessert Goals

My first grade teacher taught me the difference between desert and dessert with this helpful line about the S’s: If you’re lost in the desert, you’ll be glad there’s only one. If dessert is on the table, you’ll want more.

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The 20+ tables at Dessert Goals created an oasis of saccharine salvation in a pastel paradise. Aside from a candy bar and salt bar, we all received much needed boxed water and toothpaste at the event. Each vendor had various treats. The variety among them was impressive – who knew there were so many portable desserts? It was a bit overwhelming, but I’ve pulled together some highlights!

Craziest confection: Cheetos Macaron from Macaron Parlour. This was actually really delicious. The cookie bit was dusted with real cheese powder and the frosting tasted a bit lemony? I couldn’t quite place the taste. It was like nothing I’ve tried before, but I was delightfully surprised. All the traditional macarons were to die for.

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Take-home Treat: Artisan tarts by Megpies. I bought a 4-pack of these at the event and it wasn’t nearly enough. These are a MUST HAVE in my bag at all times now. Forget everything you thought you remembered about Pop-tarts because these are so much better, thicker, chewier and tastier. Ugh. I am so sad I ate them all and have to wait for my order to be delivered.

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Sweets to Skip: The cake pop vendor. They were adorable and incredibly well crafted, but not very tasty. I love me some cake, and I actually spit out my bite of pancake cake pop and tossed the rest. Still, I wasn’t disappointed with this buy. Ryan loved the pizza one so maybe my cake buds were off?

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Nostalgic Nibbles: Push-up cakepops from POP Cakeshop. These were really fun and messy. Each pop was customizable with choices for cake flavor, frosting, and toppings. I picked chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting, sprinkles and cinnamon toast crunch because I was feeling a breakfast vibe all day. Probably how I ended up with pancake cake pops and artisan pop-tarts!

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Regrets: I did NOT pick up one of these disco dreamsicle artisan twinkies from Sugar Monster. What is wrong with me? They were the most beautiful things there! I think I was overwhelmed by the colors and craftsmanship of the confections on their table. If I ever get married, I’m commissioning a kick ass cake from them.

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Tell me about your favorite dessert and why you love it so much? I will spend hours geeking out over sweets.

 

 

Favorite Places: Coney Island Brewery

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Since we’ve reached peak craft brewing in this country there aren’t many breweries left where you can feel like a regular or enjoy truly exciting beers. But in a world of IPAs akin to kiddie rides, Coney Island Brewery has earned their hashtags #TakeTheRide and #ThrillYourTastebuds.

On a typical Saturday in summer, you can find me wandering between the brewery and the Freak Bar, sipping beers, emphatically cheering on the sideshow and talking to freaky new friends. Even on winter weekends it’s nice to escape to a place that feels so much like my childhood home in Wildwood, NJ.

Coney Island Brewery Black Lager

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I’m a big fan of their quirky and creative events. In the summer, they host big happenings and can releases at least once a month. My favorite last year was the Cotton Candy Festival. The Cotton Candy Kolsch is one of my favorites so I had to pick up some cans to bring home.. Not too sweet, but perfect for a summer afternoon.

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The Brewery’s Birthday Bash in August was also a total blast. Sideshow performers hung out and did their acts among the crowd Adam Realman, my sideshow professa from Sideshow School 2012, ripped a deck of playing cards in HALF and made my boyfriend bleed trying to replicate that feat of strength.

We spent Super Bowl VII with CIB at Kitchen 21, enjoying our favorite craft beers as the Eagles historically won their first Lombardi. Most recently, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with an excellent beer and chocolate pairing.

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Freak Show Saturdays are a great opportunity to get freaky with flavors. As CIB describes their Randall infusions:

Every Saturday a new, mad, reckless experiment in beer science will be conducted in our taproom as we infuse one of our styles with a new ingredient.

Think NY Honey Stout infused with Cafe Grumpy espresso beans, our Merman NY IPA blasted through two chambers of whole cone Mosaic hops, or perhaps Mermaid Pilsner infused with lemon starburst?

As someone who is routinely drawn to events to try their newest releases and limited editions, this is a kryptonite that guarantees I have plans every Saturday!

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It’s no surprise I’ve been a member of the Beer Freak Club since last year. I’m only one punch away from the mug club and definitely on track to score one of those BEAUTIFUL Beast Stainless Steel Growlers only the freakiest fans earn.

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NYC Beer Week is coming up fast and I’ll be checking out a couple of spots. I’ll definitely be at the kick off party at the brewery next Sunday. Then March 1, I’ll be hanging out for a while at the Brazen Fox. I love when CIB comes to my neighborhood! Who else is coming out?
beer week

Your Love Won’t Survive a Nuclear Apocalypse, but These Guys Will

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Each year, I support wildlife conservation and self love by naming a cockroach after an ex for Valentine’s Day. It’s cathartic, tax-deductible, and includes chocolate! Seeing that all my heartbreakers have been roached already (and my Ryan remains in good standing for the time being), there was only one glaringly obvious choice for the 2018 naming honor. Donald J. Trump. Middle initial and everything.

Here’s what I wrote:

Donald J. Trump
You disgrace the podium & everything this country was made on.
You’re not worth the Cheeto dust this roach trails through.
You won’t reduce me from a 6 figure salary to just a 6 on a good day.

Now that it’s out there, I kind of hear Eminem rapping it in my head.

The Bronx Zoo has been doing this wildlife conservation donation drive for years and I truly love it. With the near-daily threat of nuclear winter, your roach could be the only legacy I leave behind. They offer a few different donation tiers that come with various treats. This year they really pulled out all the stops with the add-ons. The top tier treats include your name certificate, a pin, roach SOCKS, and chocolate roaches. Yes, please!

Seriously, how CUTE are these?? Look at those cocoa creepies! 🐜

If you just want to donate and get a digital certificate, it’s only $15. Of course, you can mix and match the add-ons or buy just one of them. It’s such a cute and creative little Galentine’s Day gift for yourself (or a friend). All for a good cause and your own levity. And chocolate 🍫.

How To Taste and Judge Grilled Cheese

Adapted from a previous version I wrote after the 2012 Big Cheesy (I miss the Big Cheesy).

Much has been written about the arts of wine and chocolate tasting. However, the most refined palates simply must learn the required method of sampling an exquisite fromage grillé. Please, allow me to guide you into the world of toasted cheese as you’ve never experienced it before.

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Tasting always begins with the eyes. Note the color of the bread. Is it golden or a deep bronze? Is it completely burnt? Does the butter give the bread a wet sheen, a just-kissed gloss or a saturated spongy soppiness? What of the cheese? Is it peeking from the edges, bubbling softly or is it rolling like magma onto the plate? Lastly, pay attention to the cut. Whether your sample is a square, triangle, circle or star, it has been specifically crafted that way for a reason.

Aroma. Get your nose right between the slices and into the sandwich. What do you notice? (Did you burn your nose? Too close. Wipe that cheese off.)

Texture. Sink your teeth into it. A good toasted cheese sandwich should have a signature crunch. A great sandwich boasts a thin, yet substantial topical crust with soft bread and cheese blending in the center. Some prefer a harder crunch throughout the bread juxtaposed by the soft meltiness of the cheese center.

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Cold ales and ambers pair well with grilled cheese and cleanse the palate

Meltiness. This is a crucial factor in tasting grilled cheese. Is the cheese melted properly? There’s nothing worse than partially melted or still-solid chunks of cheese interrupting an otherwise enjoyable experience. Keep in mind, different cheeses and/or combinations of cheese melt differently.

Bread to Cheese Ratio. There should not be too much bread. Likewise, there should not be too much cheese. This is a delicate balance. In the case of stronger cheeses, toasted-cheesemongers may use less cheese with a combination of fillers like spinach, ham, mushrooms or other additions that will compliment the cheese without overpowering the sandwich.

Little Muenster Tasty Trio

A Toasty Trio by Little Muenster

Flavor. You should already know your cheeses, of course, so pay attention to the notes in cheese combinations. If there are any additional ingredients like vegetables, sauces or meats, identify them and ruminate on what they bring to the overall experience as well as how they blend individually.

Pairings. If your sample comes with a accoutrements, try them. With wine, sip after each bite. If it’s a shot of soup, try both dipping the grilled cheese into the soup and sipping the soup after a clean bite. If the sandwich is topped with a relish or drizzled with chocolate, do not brush it off. When in doubt, ask the toasted-cheesemonger for their recommendation for consumption.

Hungry? If you’re ready to put your newly acquired tasting skills to the test (you’re welcome, by the way), try some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in New York at the Atwood’s Winter Grilled Cheese Festival.

2017 Credits

Let ’em roll!

2017 was the fastest year I think I’ve ever experienced. That’s probably a good thing. I did a lot of great things and fought through a lot of not so great things. Trying to navigate this weird new reality around me and find my center every day. It was a year I spent trying to distract myself FROM everything WITH everything. My depression got REALLY bad as a result. Kind of a mess, but this bull is ready to lock horns with 2018 and make some magic every damn day.

What I did // Got a sneak peak at the Nintendo Switch in January. Became an IBMer and landed my dream job! Ran my 5th 15k. Had a kick ass time in NOLA for my sister’s bachelorette weekend. And then served as Maid of Honor in her gorgeous wedding! Saw Shakespeare in the Park. Lost $200 and felt horribly out of place at the Belmont Stakes. Stuffed my face at Donutfest with Gluxbox. Spent a magical 4th of July at Coney Island with all my freakshow friends. Checked out the INCREDIBLE Jim Henson Exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image. Saw so many concerts I started a new section here dedicated to Live Shows. Was completely underwhelmed by NYCC. Experienced one of the greatest Penn State Football games of all time vs Michigan and was part of a record-breaking crowd over #110kStrong. Went fly fishing and caught the most monstrous brown trout ever. Checked out a lot of cool new breweries.

Most-played albums // Bush*Black and White Rainbows + all the other albums, of course / Gorillaz*Humanz / Band of Skulls*By Default / The Dead Deads*Rainbeau + For Your Obliteration / Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds*Who Built the Moon / The Orwells*Disgraceland + Terrible Human Beings

Most-loved shows & films // Master of None. Game Of Thrones. Rick and Morty. 13 Reasons Why (even though watching it made me relive a lot of horrible shit). GLOW. Blade Runner 2049. American Vandal. Stranger Things 2. The Lure – a horror-musical mermaid Polish film. Love (more like hate-watching this one). Easy. Salem. Black Mirror

Places I Traveled // Austin, TX (not as weird as advertised), NOLA (If you need recommendations, I have them all!), Atlanta, GA to the Coca-Cola HQ. Philly. Monterrey, Mexico.

Live Shows I Attended // Paul Gilbert. Morgan James. The Gin Blossoms (and caught a pick!). Garbage x Blondie. Bush x 3!!! Paul McCartney (and Bruce Springsteen came out for the encore!). Brian Wilson. A Perfect Circle.

Top purchases // Nintendo Switch! Neon Yellow joycons for said Switch. Velociraptor socks at The Strand. Oliver Hibert’s Tarot and Secret Arcana. SNES Classic. Gold boots (they make me feel like a goddess and I get TONS of compliments every time I wear them). Apple Watch Series 3 – lifechanging. Passion Planner so I can make goals and break them down into tasks to ensure I’m staying centered, practicing gratitude and moving forward/upward.

Style obsessions // Gamer bounding (sometimes accidentally). So much black. Bomber jackets. Biker boots. Leopard and suede. Pins (all of the pins). Metallics. Trucker hats (I somehow amassed a collection as if it’s 2002…). Vintage t-shirts. Black and white leggings with psychedelic patterns.

Best things I did for myself // Started a Bullet Journal. Created a daily tarot ritual. Crystal bed therapy- I had some insane visions and left feeling both balanced/relaxed AND more powerful than ever! Ramped up my side hustle on Rover.com – I made over $3,000 to hang out with so many awesome dogs! Got an Equinox membership- it’s sweaty, eucalyptus scented bliss and the most motivating gym I’ve ever been to. Tried a spin class and got addicted to the bike. Stopped being ashamed of my depression and learned to ask for help when I need it.

Top games // The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch). Shantae: Half Genie Hero (PS4). Ever Oasis (3DS). Splatoon 2 (Switch). Stardew Valley (Switch). Super Mario Odyssey (Switch). Night in the Woods (PS4). Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS). Destiny 2 (Xbox). Golf Story (Switch). Oxenfree (PS4). Animal Crossing Pocket Camp (Mobile- I know! Never thought I’d see the day…). Worms W.M.D (Switch). The End is Nigh (Switch).

What were your biggest highlights of the year?