Monday, January 31, 2011

My Current Obsessions

I obsesses.  I drag others into my obsessions.  I do my best to convince everyone to tell their friends about my recent finds, discoveries, or realization and start my own personal marketing campaign for each individual obsession.  It's a little sick, I realize.  But, as a social creature I'm happier when I have company in my madness.  Please let me know if you'd like to join me on my wild ride following, using or creating any of the topics below and I'll stop harassing you all about them.  Even better…tell me about your latest obsessions and I’ll add them to my ever-growing list.
My top 6 obsessions of the month include:
  • Podcasts (in order of preference)
    • Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me - Seriously funny, oddly educational.
    • This American Life - Proves there's nothing more interesting than our own personal life stories.
    • Culturetopia and Ted Talks (solid tie, depending on my mood that day and the podcast topic)
  • Brussel Sprouts
    • I'm a big fan of roasted brussels but had a brussel sprout epiphany when I tasted the sauteed sprouts at 10 Downing which included anchovies, garlic, and olive oil - topped with a wobbly poached egg,  No, seriously, it was defining moment for me and the little lettuce balls after years of hatred and bitter fights.
  • Crafting
    • I call myself an abstract artist, but not in the well-trained, multi-talented kind of way.  I simply can't paint or draw a solid depiction of...well anything.  So, I craft things like photo frames, body scrub and wallets.  My latest crafts have come out of my new craft book, The Big Ass Book of Crafts.  Thanks to my friend Bonnie for such a perfect birthday gift.

  • Dining Out on Coupons
    • See my Scoutmob and Blackboard Eats post for details.  I expect this obsession to last for a long time.
  • Board Games
    • Thanks to my friend Jen's latest twist on Apples to Apples, board games are back in my life and part of my weekend nights again.  Perhaps this is a sign that I'm getting old.  Perhaps it's a sign I'm feeling young again.  Regardless, I love it.
  • Top Websites of the Month
    •, which tracks all your finances for you and offers tips and advise for saving money, investing money and being smarter about your financial choices.  So what if everyone caught on to this website years ago.  It's already saved me 200 bucks this month and my love for it will only continue to grow.
    • Qwiki which acts as a search engine but relays the information to you in a storytelling manner.  For example when I typed in "Brussel Sprouts" an automated voice came on and told me the average size of a sprout, the top exporters of the sprout and the nutritional benefits of the sprout.  What more could you want?  Thanks to Davina for opening my eyes to this one.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Evolution of the Coupon Girl

If you've been out to dinner with me in the past 3 months, chances are you didn't get much of a chance to pick the restaurant. My addiction to trying new places, and saving cash have combined together to become the one, the only, Coupon Girl. In the past, I was wary about presenting coupons to a waiter or waitress who may not offer me the same experience if I was planning on paying full price for my meal. But, with the recession came new ways to save money and I'm quite sure some of my latest finds are leading the revolution of dinning out on the cheap.

My two favorite pioneers in this space are Scoutmob and Blackboard Eats which both offer patrons a percentage off of their meal at a "hand selected" restaurant or bar. If you decide to stop reading here, you must at least check out their websites and try one of their deals.

So, here's the new lay of the land from an avid user's perspective. I find a good foodie or lifestyle blog or website that fits my demographic and offers interesting reviews on some of my favorite spots. The reviews are written as half intelligent restaurateur deconstructing the menu and atmosphere and half humor columnist for The Onion Newspaper. I find these reviews to be the highlight in my day and want to build on my relationship with these blogs and sites.

They take the first step and send me an email about how they are pioneering relationships with some of their favorite restaurants and bars and will give me the opportunity to save 30-50% off my meals at these destinations in the future. I squeal and accept their offer to build on our relationship.

 Blackboard Eats catches my attention first, and sends me offers for 20-30% off at some of the city's best restaurants. They don't charge me for these coupons, they just require me to purchase at least one entree or two appetizers when I use their coupons. I do, and fall hard for some fantastic new finds that I never would have experimented on without the gentle push from a dear friend. Most of their finds are $$ to $$$$ restaurants and elegant bars and suit my mood for a Saturday night or an occasion (I must omit the word "special" before occasion since every day is a special occasion in some way).

Just last week, Blackboard Eats upped their price per coupon from $0 to $1 or $20 for a full year of deals. I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear Jerome and I went for the full year of deals.

ScoutMob was my second friend in this new, crafty, money saving world. They snuck up much faster than my last friend, but offered a significant amount of humor with their reviews and recommendations which won me over immediately. Once they decided to strengthen their relationship with me, by offering me 50% off coupons to some of the city’s best local finds we became best friends. Even better, their demographic and finds tend to fall into the lower price range ($-$$$) and offer great options for regular weeknight dinners or Sunday brunches. Their coupons also have a cap which range from $15-$35, which isn't hard to hit if you decide to have any booze with your meal. But, it's a great friendship, and awesome deals. Best part: Their iPhone App gives me 1/2 off offers on the go.

I have immense love for my new friends and will share my restaurant adventures with you soon.

Monday, January 24, 2011 hosted a design competition called Life Edited on their website this month and drew the interest of several amazing designers, namely Jerome Burgos.  In short the competition asked designers and architects to, "design a jewel box of an ultra-low-footprint apartment in 420sf ."

Now, I'd hate to be considered biased towards my boyfriend and his colleague who worked on this project but I'll risk it by saying - Jerome and Emily posted the most creative, intelligent project possible.  I was personally amazed by their ability to broaden the tiny space so much that some of the space set-ups look expansive.  They also crafted new furniture for the space which allow for the potential owner to quickly and easily change the space for eating, working. lounging, sleeping or cooking.   The unique furniture, which in it's raw format looks almost link a cube, are such beautiful puzzle pieces when displayed, and art pieces when stacked and stored away.  Their concept, titled is available for viewing here.

Sadly, I was not quick enough with this post and the competition is already closed for public vote.  But, I'm sure he'd appreciate it if you took a look at the work and left a comment.  To understand the variations in lay-outs, I included the design requirements below.  Once you've read them consider this question.....Where else would you need to use such a tiny space for such a wide variety of activities than in NYC?

The design needs to support the life of a real person in the apartment - someone who works, eats, lives, and entertains. We’re looking for apartment designs that allow for:

•a sit-down dinner for 12 people
•a comfortable lounging option for 8 people
•space for 2 guests with some visual and ideally auditory privacy
•a home office
•a work area with space for a rolling tool chest
•a hideable kitchen

As the room function is changed, it should not feel like you are sleeping in your office or eating in your bedroom. At the same time, it should be easy and quick enough to change the room function that one would actually do it.

Monday, January 10, 2011


In 2010, Harlem's Frederick Douglass Boulevard got a boutique hotel, a beer garden, a supermarket, a luxury condo surge and, most importantly, a Curbed Cup championship! The south/central Harlem microhood, referred to by some as Harlem's new "Gold Coast," easily defeated defending champion Williamsburg (Northside, specifically) in the tournament finals, claiming 56.6% of the 2,362 total votes. Will this stunning victory go to Harlem's head?  Only time will tell, but for now, this gentle golf clap goes out to all of us.