UberPool – my first trip – 10/10

I love using Uber when I’m in a city because I don’t need to work out where I am in order to tell the driver where to pick me up and the best part is that I don’t need to carry cash (you pay via a card or Apple pay within the app).

This week I had to go to Brooklyn Heights for an appointment to apply for my SSN. It was 32/33 degrees out, which meant I did not fancy the metro, and it was an hour and 20 minutes worth of walk. I thought I’d check out Uber to see what the damage would be and I was quoted approx. $18 for the journey. I then spied UberPool next to the usual UberX and it was quoting me a little over $6 for the same journey. I did a search using Uncle Google and it looked legit, so I booked it.

It works on the principal that you’re joining in on someone else’s journey, so your fare is greatly reduced (usually around 40%, I think). The car* pulled up outside my apartment building 4 minutes after I booked with two people already in the back. The app told me not only who my driver was, but also who the other passengers were.

The journey didn’t take any longer than I’d anticipated (about 25 minutes) after dropping the other passengers off at the park and I really did only pay just over $6. I’m a convert and hopefully next time I need to use Uber there will be someone else heading in the same direction!

 

*the beautifully air conditioned car (note earlier comment about the hot weather). 

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Week one in NYC…

This is a little (maybe not so little) catch up, so there’s not too much detail. I’ll hopefully be able to write more frequently once we’re settled, but for now I’m skimming over some of the detail – forgive me.

L and I arrived very early Thursday morning last week & the week has flown by. I thought I would have the chance to update you all before now, but this seems like a good time.

We wouldn’t be here right now without our families doing what they’ve done to help. My parents have pulled out the stops to makes sure our things and our house are ready and safe and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. I have no idea what we would be doing right now without them. Thank you. 

So, what have we been up to??

Thursday AM: We manage to get through the front doors of our Airbnb but realise that we’d not been given a door number by our host. It turns out that this wouldn’t have helped anyway because there are no numbers on any of the doors. After trying the various keys (three) in some of the other apartment doors (very carefully as it was around 1am), we find our apartment. We collapse into bed and wake up at a sensible time for Thursday to properly begin.

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[photo by me] Art by Paul Richard.

Thursday later AM: we take a look around Williamsburg & grab a latte in Cafe Beit. We were aiming for a sit-in latte with a pastry for breakfast but I bottle it at the seemingly complicated transaction, grab the lattes to go and flee without something to eat. I am I bit flustered by the whole thing;I just don’t feel cool enough for Williamsbur g at this point, even if I had just ordered an almond milk latte (Cafe Beit make their own!) and managed to give an appropriate tip.

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[photo by me]

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[photo by me]

We needed to get a few things before going to collect Bo from customs at JFK, such as cat litter and cat food. You’d think that would be easy. You’d be wrong. The first place we find is Whole Foods. Whole Foods is like Waitrose on steroids. It’s glorious. And also very stressful. You won’t find any of your ‘regular’ groceries there; everything is organic or dairy free or gluten free (which is absolutely fine for us) but it makes everything a little more stressful when you don’t recognise a single brand. We found some wonderful things, which I’ll show you later. We decided to find a dedicated pet store to get the things for Bo and in the meantime just got some essentials for us.

We then found a juice bar because we needed a bit of a pick-me-up and had a green juice – they made me my favourite, which is green apple, mint, lime, and celery. It was a little heavy on the celery, I must admit. Then on to the pet store for cat essentials. It was really warm out (for doing errands) so we headed back to the apartment for a 5 minute freshen up before hearing back to JFK to pick up Bo (the cat). Luckily we did because the next part ended up taking 5 hours…

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[photo by me]

But Bo is now here and is quite settled; she’s very interested in the birds out in the yard, so we’re having to keep a very close eye on her when we open the back door.

Friday: I spent some of Thursday night looking at open houses in Williamsburg for today and found that there is an apartment block just a few blocks away from where we’re currently staying, so we go along to see if they have someone to show us around. The letting agent, Jay, shows us an apartment that is almost available but it’s a little on the small side. We mention that we’re looking for a home office if possible and he has one vacating on Saturday morning, so we arrange to come back and have a look on Saturday afternoon. The building is nice and has some of the shared amenities we’re looking for; roof terrace, gym, rooftop bbq, garden, party room, chill room for groceries, etc.

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[photo by me]

L is called into work unexpectedly so I spend the afternoon doing some journalling in the apartment (I got a new notebook, but I’ll show you in more detail another day).

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[photo by me]

For dinner we decide to go somewhere local, so I choose Mable’s Smokehouse for some BBQ. It’s a grab-your-own-table kind of place and you go up to a counter to order the food. I order us the shared platter so that we get to try a few things and we have some beers.

 

[photo by me]

We end the night on a wander around Williamsburg, checking out more of the beautiful street art and just generally taking in the atmosphere.

Saturday: L saw an apartment on the waterfront when he came here a month ago so he wanted to show me the same place. In short – the apartments are tiny and expensive, but the views are amazing. We walked past the famous Smorgasburg food festival on the way and planned to go back, but we decided to take a walk to the East River bank instead and take a look at the view of Manhattan. We found a lovely little grocery store called Harvest Market and got some lunch to take back to the apartment.

[photo by me]

We had arranged to go back to see Jay to have a look at the other apartment that had become available today. It was a little bigger and had the home office and we decided to apply – you have to move fast in New York if you find something you like, so that was it, we’ve decided to stay in Williamsburg for the next 13 months. What actually happens at this point is that you apply to take the apartment and you have to wait to see if you are accepted, so there is some paperwork to do, which we take back to the apartment to take a look at. The bank is now closed, however, so we arrange to go back on Sunday with the paperwork and cheques.

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[photo by me]

Sunday: L needs to go to his bank to arrange some cheques (they need to be certified, so you can’t use a chequebook); we each have to pay an application fee (which you don’t get back if you’re rejected) and another $1,000 to take the apartment off the market. We take our forms and the cheques along to Jay on Sunday morning. We get told that there is a chance that we won’t get the apartment because we don’t have an American credit history. Your magnificent credit history in the UK is worth cheese here, for anyone else looking to go through this process.

We celebrate our first apartment application by going to brunch. I’ll write again about brunch at some point because it’s a big thing here in New York. I don’t think it’s the same as in the UK, at this point I think it might be an excuse to drink alcohol earlier in the day, but we’ll see…

Our brunch place of choice is Fushimi, a Japanese place. L has the wagyu beef mini burgers and I have some chicken and potatoes. Both were delicious, the burgers more so than the chicken. More wandering around Brooklyn follows and we find a cute little vintage furniture store inside a garage that is only open at weekends.

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[photo by me]

We also go on a hunt for a clothes iron. I’ve still no idea where you get these from in The City. We happened to find a hardware store that had one type that we definitely overpaid for.

Shop guy: Can I help you?
Us: We’re just browsing at the moment, thank you. 
Shop guy: Well, it’s not a museum. 

This exchange prompted me to ask on Quora if there is an American alternative to the phrase “just browsing” (which in England usually means that you’re looking for something specific but you don’t need any help looking for it because you’re not in a rush) to which most people replied that the guy was just being a jerk and that the phrase is perfectly acceptable. Phew!

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[photo by me]

Later in the day we go out looking for Blue Bottle Coffee, a trendy-looking coffee place that has been on my radar. We find it, we have coffee, life is good. Not so good is the pizza that we decide to have for dinner. I won’t tell you the name because it’s a very popular place here and maybe they were having an off day? Either way, we spent over $20 on a couple of slices of cold, tasteless pizza.

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[photo by me]

Monday: L starts work properly today and off he goes first thing. His commute amazes me, he leaves here and pops up in Manhattan 20 minutes later and the train isn’t even overcrowded. I use the day to do some more journalling and I go out for a walk around Williamsburg. It’s a bank holiday Monday in the UK, I believe we get one on the 29th of May. I think they’re just called public holidays here? I’ll look into that.

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[photo by me]

I went back to Harvest Market and got some groceries today (I’ll write about groceries at a later time – I need to work them out first) so I made us our first proper homemade dinner – a chicken curry. I will never get bored of the view on the way home from the grocery store…

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[photo by me]

We also find out around this time that we have been accepted for our apartment! We’re very excited because this part could have taken up to 4 days and I already spent most of Monday checking my emails. Hooray!

Tuesday: I take a walk to find Midoriya, a Japanese grocery store, and also pop into the pet store (PS9) to see if they have a harness I can get for Bo so that I can take her out in the yard. I get some Japanese treats and a harness, I also pick up a birthday present for Bo (it’s her birthday on Monday). On the way back I find McCarren Park, the weather is beautiful and I find a bench and take in my surroundings.

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[photo by me]

In PS9 I had a good 30 minute chat with the cashier (I believe her name is Adriana) and she was very welcoming. She has moved from Manhattan to Williamsburg and confirmed that we had made the right decision to live here instead of in The City. She also offered to give me a tour of Brooklyn – people here are so nice! It turns out that I can also take Bo along so that she can try out the beds and choose her own, which is nice. I learn that it’s quite common for cats to be taken out in carry bags so that they get some outside time and that harnesses and taking cats to the park is taking off. Maybe Bo will like that…

It’s actually not a struggle to get Bo into her harness (small miracles) and we spend the afternoon in the back yard.

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[photo by me]

Today is the day that I perfect the grilled cheese sandwich.

Wednesday: Another walk to the East River bank and Harvest Market. I finally try the pizza from Harvest Market ($4 per slice!) and it’s delicious. I get brave and ask about loyalty cards and delivery. Get me!

Thursday: I have one plan for today – to find Mister Dips. Did I find Mister Dips? No. But it turns out I was close (I told them on Instagram where I’d ended up and asked if I was close, and I was). So that’s a job for another day. I did, however, find Du’s Donuts and coffee, where I had a creamsicle flavoured donut and a latte (thanks).

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[photo by me]

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[photo by me]

We finished the day with a meal from Sweet Chick, which I’ll write about in a separate post.

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[photo by me]

Friday: Today was a washout. The rain came down. Not just a little bit. Enough for me to get an official flood warning on my iPhone. During this time the radiators in the (temporary) apartment started leaking. It was a day and a half and I’m glad that L is now home and it’s the weekend!

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[photo by me]

Apologies for the loooong catch up there. I hope you enjoyed parts of it. I’ll keep snapping away and I’ll update you as often as possible.

Much love,

L. x

 

 

We did it!

We did it. We moved to New York City.

Bo (the cat) arrives at JFK airport TODAY at about 2pm. It’s 6am now, local time (ET), and 11am UK time (GMT). I’ve just woken up after a super comfy sleep in our Airbnb in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Our plane landed about 11pm last night & we (and our SIX suitcases!!) got to the apartment quite late, so it was a case of collapsing and hoping that we didn’t sleep right through until next weekend. It was so warm and balmy when we arrived last night.

This morning I’ve woken to *loud* bird song and the sound of tyres in the rain. One of the things we love about our house in Sussex is waking to the sound of birds, so this is beautiful.

We’re going to have to prioritise getting some groceries done today. I know, I know, THE GLAMOUR! Every suitcase was at max capacity (23kg) so we didn’t even have room for a scrap of shampoo or any essentials. We will also need some cat groceries for the furry one. I’ve no idea what she’ll make of this place. The Airbnb has a yard, so at lease for the next two and a half weeks she can be outside a bit.

The husband is fast asleep with no signs of waking. It’s relaxing just listening to the cars go by outside. Apartment life is going to be so very different. Having to tiptoe around when you get up early or go to bed late will take some getting used to. We’ve been spoilt with our three-bed end of terrace and just stomping around at all hours.

Talking of apartments, we will have to find one, hopefully in the next week, so wish us luck. We’re hoping to view one in Manhattan tomorrow with a chap called Tim. The MASSIVE question at the moment is- Manhattan or Brooklyn? I really don’t know how we will decide. Let’s hope we just fall in love with a place.

We’re off out now to do grocery & cat stuff. Ciao!

L.

 

Update… we’re moving!

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[Image by me]

Evening to all.

It has been a little while since I last posted, but hopefully I’ll now have a bit more time to write. “Why?” I hear you asking, well… we’re moving to America! I’ve already left work and I’m on day 4 of being “between jobs” and although it’s a really scary time, it’s also quite exciting.

Let me rewind a little bit. A few months ago my husband was offered a new job in New York City. We spent a couple of months wondering if we would really go and if we would even be accepted for visas. Five weeks ago today we went to London to attend an appointment with the US Embassy, and we were accepted.

We’ve spent these five weeks packing some of our belongings and I have been finishing up at work. I had some lovely leaving drinks and meals, as well as a couple of work parties, and here we are now. My husband officially started work in New York on Monday. He flew out there a couple of days beforehand to do boring things like open a bank account and then on Monday morning he was very brave and actually started working. He is back home now until we go for good, but that means we need to crack on with it and get the house packed up. Scary.

I’ve also have my dissertation to write because I plan on graduating in July. I’m not going to say too much about that because the thought of it makes me feel quite sick, a feeling I’m sure you’re familiar with if you’ve had to do a dissertation or a final project of some sort. It’s only 10,000 words, but… it’s 10,000 words!

The next step is finding somewhere to live, which feels very daunting. L stayed in an apartment in Astoria, Queens last week because we thought that’s where we wanted to live. I’ve never lived in a city before and the idea of being able to leave the city at the end of the day and go home was appealing to me, however, after living in Queens for a week, L thinks he would like to live in Manhattan. This is fine with me as it means that he can walk/cycle to work and I don’t need to get a subway to be amongst the excitement. It sounds like people move around a lot in New York, it appears to be quite common to move out after the 12 month lease is up. This is good because it means that we can experience a few places whilst we’re there. It also means that I’ll have to not clutter the place up… no comments, please.

I’ll leave our little update there and I will keep you updated as and when things progress. For now we need to PACK, PACK, PACK… and write, write write. Wish us luck!

Much love,

L. x

Curry recipe… *spicy*

On Friday, when I was doing the shopping, I asked L to grab a recipe book, pick something and tell me the ingredients so that we could make something together on Saturday night. It’s now Saturday night (bonfire night), we’re staying in to comfort the cat (she doesn’t like the fireworks) and we’ve made and eaten the curry, and it was so delicious that I thought I’d share it with you immediately…

You’ll need (for 4 people):

  • 1 standard pack of boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chopped up 2 per person
  • 1 table spoon of coconut oil
  • 1 standard white onion – chopped finely
  • 1 tin of chopped plum tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons of natural yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of hot cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (we used pink Himalayan)
  • 2 large hot chillis – chopped finely
  • 5 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • a chunk of ginger – half of it diced finely, half sliced finely
  • 2 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Fresh coriander leaves

Method: 

Heat the coconut oil in a non-stick pan and add the onion, garlic, and diced ginger. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken pieces and cook until all of the outside is white.

Mix together the turmeric, hot cayenne, and salt, add to the chicken and stir for 5 minutes.

Add half the tin of tomatoes and stir.

Lower the temperature and add the yogurt – at this point ours split and I thought that was the end, by the end it sorted itself out and was fine, so don’t panic if this happens.

Stir through and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the garam masala, chopped chilli, the other half of the tomatoes, and the sliced ginger. Stir through. You can also add the coriander leaves at this point but I won’t next time (I was already weary about cooking with coriander leaves and I was right). I personally would save them and put them on the top at the end.

Cook until the chicken is cooked through and then serve with some boiled white rice – voila! I also used some of the natural yogurt, added a pinch of salt, some dried mint, and a dash of coconut sugar, and mixed it together to serve on the side (it was yum!).

Ours was delicious and I am 100% sure that I’ll be making it again. We were so keen to eat it that we didn’t take any photos, but next time I will and I’ll share them with you.

If you make this curry, come by and let me know how you get on!

Happy Saturday night.

L. x

 

The Girl on the Train ~ Paula Hawkins

I’ve not read a book for pleasure for a long time; studying for a degree takes up all your time and ‘reading capacity’, however, after a summer break and all the hype surrounding The Girl on the Train, I was ready. I read it in 24 hours and it reminded me how great it was to read again (that sounds a little silly, but I’m sure you understand what I’m saying). I’m glad I read it instead of seeing the movie; there was so much in it that would be difficult to get across on the big screen, I think. I might see it some day, but I’d also like to read it again, so I certainly won’t be seeing it in the cinema. I got it as an iBook on my iPad Pro, which is a shame because I love lending out books when I’ve read them, and as soon as I’d finished it I wanted to pass it on. I recommend it to anyone who needs a short read for a flight, or for on a beach somewhere. It’s gripping and keeps you wanting more.

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It’s Halloween today. I had a day off work so I made a roasted pumpkin and chilli soup. I made it using pumpkins that I brought on the side of the road in Ansty. I think that makes it even more special. They were so sweet once I’d roasted them. The soup was warming and L loved it, which is a miracle.

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I’ve been sent some amazingly cute photos of R by my Sister. He’s had a great halloween, they’ve made handprint pumpkins, pumpkin foods, they’ve played with inflatable pumpkins, and played dress up.

I’ve just ordered another paperback; We need to talk about Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. The film was recommended on Netflix for Halloween so I had a look online to see what it was about and there are many posts saying that the book is better, and because I like a thriller, I thought it best that I read it first. Less than £3 for the paperback on eBay. Perfect! It would have been about £9 as an iBook, so I’ve not only saved money, but I can pass it on after.

 

 

This evening I’ve discovered Transylvania is a beautiful place that I’d like to go to. I am keen to see the castles of Germany, and just this evening I’ve seen photos of the castles in Transylvania! They look magical. It looks like you have to be very careful regarding the time of year that you go, as some of the roads are blocked after October, but I don’t see why we couldn’t go sometime next year. Then we can add Romania to the list of countries we’ve visited! Look at this beautiful place…

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Right, well, I’m off to bed soon because I have work tomorrow, so I’m going to say goodnight.

L. x

THE OUTNET… shopping list

I like to make imaginary shopping baskets (don’t we all?) and today I am looking at The Outnet…

  1. Anya Hindmarch red velvet crisp packet shoulder bag. I’ve seen these and they are stunning.
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  2. Peter Pilotto Maze jacquard-knit dress. This dress reminds me of an Alexander McQueen design and I love it. I love the contrast of the yellow and blue on the black and the perfect sleeve length. So pretty.
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  3. Roksanda two-tone silk skirt. Oooh la la! The length! The colour! The swishyness…
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  4. Osman cropped metallic brocade top. This and the velvet Anya bag look like Christmas together! I love brocade and I love the shape of this top. Love.
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  5. Matthew Williamson embroidered silk chiffon dress. How perfect is this dress? It’s maxi, it has embroidery, it has YELLOW embroidery, it has STARS on it, it has sheer arms, it has LONG sheer arms… the list goes on.
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    These are my top picks of the recently added. It’s all so pretty. Now, I have to go and distract myself so I don’t add the Anya to my basket. It’s. Too. Tempting…