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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Things to Do in New York City

Every month or so I get a Facebook message from a friend, former colleague or classmate telling me they are coming to New York and they'd love to know the must-do's from an insider. Since it's not a quick or easy answer, I promise to get back to them....and well...job, baby, dogs, husband...boom, I forget, and I don't think about it again until I see their posts from Times Square or the Empire State Building.

Doh. Then I feel like a real jerk.

So here you go...for all those who want to know, here are my favorite things to do and eat in New York City. Enjoy!

To Do


  • Central Park- One of my favorite ways to spend a few hours in New York is to walk around Central Park. I've been there 100 times, and I still find myself on a new path, seeing new things. It's particularly gorgeous right now with the trees blooming. Most people start near Columbus Circle and walk north or east from there. Tip: The farther north you go, the less busy it is. If you want to take a carriage, they are lined up along Central Park South.
  • Brooklyn Bridge- Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is also so fun and again, free! Tip: Take the subway to the entrance near City Hall (Lower Manhattan) and walk from there. It's also really fun to take the ferry back to Manhattan. Tickets are available on the Brooklyn side, where it departs. Tip 2: While walking on the bridge, stay off the bike path. They go super fast and are a bit loco.
  • River Cruises- Some of my favorite NYC nights have been cruising around the Hudson and/or East Rivers! The views of the city are spectacular, plus they'll take you up close to the Statue of Liberty. One of my favorites is this Classic Harbor Line Sunset Cruise. Discounted tickets available on Zerve. It's quaint and the staff is so friendly. 
  • Broadway Show- Yes, they are wildly overpriced, but people love a good Broadway Show. My faves: Jersey Boys, Motown and A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder (no longer playing, I think) :-( Kinky Boots is also on my list. Tip: Check out sites/apps like Goldstar or TodayTix to get discounted tickets. 
  • Empire State Building- Spectacular views and great photo opps...no other thrills. Tip: Splurge for the Express passes. It will save you hours in line. 
  • 9/11 Memorial- I haven't been since the museum was finished, but I hear it's just beyond touching. (I'm not far enough post-baby and emotionally ready. The memorial itself made me have the ugly cries.) I also hear the views from the observatory are simply amazing.
  • Brunch- If there's one thing New Yorkers love, it's having brunch. Usually around 12 pm or 12:30 pm so we don't feel guilty drinking. Do it! There are so many great restaurants in this city.
Where to Eat
This is such a tough question! I've heard there are between 25,000-30,000 restaurants in New York City. Here are some of my faves:
  • Upstairs at the Kimberly- My favorite brunch spot. Great for drinks too! Super beautiful views (Midtown)
  • Catch NYC- Amazing dinner location and usually good celebrity spotting! Fun fact: My girlfriend and I were there the same night as John Legend's birthday party and I used the bathroom stall right after Chrissy Teigen, so my butt touched where hers did just seconds before. Winning! (Meatpacking District)
  • Almond- There are a couple locations, but I've been to the Tribeca one for dinner. Super great ambiance and wonderful food (Tribeca)
  • Park Ave Spring (Summer, Fall, Winter)- This restaurant on Park Ave. changes its menu and ambiance every season and it's gorgeous! I recently had the Maine Lobster dish that made me want to cry happy tears. (It's expensive) (Flatiron) 
  • El Centro- Super amazing place nearish to Times Square. The best Mexican food I've had in the city. (Try their steak burrito and flavored margaritas.) It's small and they don't take reservations, so get there early! (Hell's Kitchen)
  • Remi- This is another good one closeish to Times Square. Their bread with goat cheese sauce is to die for. Drinks are reasonably priced too. (Theater District)
  • Mandarin Oriental- This is a really fun place to do afternoon tea. Great views of Central Park! Near Columbus Circle. (Midtown)
  • Molly's Cupcakes- The BEST cupcakes in New York City. Try the cake batter. (West Village)
Transportation
  • The subway really is the best, easiest and cheapest way to get around NYC. Uber is good too, unless they have surge pricing, then run far, far away. Cabs are great and are usually easy to hail, unless it's raining. Tip: Download the NYC Subway App (with the white train and red/black background). It works even when you're underground and you can see what trains to use. 
Hotels
  • I don't have a ton of insights here, but I do know that most in Times Square are good. People seem to love the Marriott Marquis. Other good ones (not in Times Square), Empire Hotel, Hotel Hugo and the Lucerne. 
I think that's about it! Now go enjoy this crazy, fabulous city! (And don't get mugged. Ha!) 


Monday, October 19, 2015

When a teacher changes your life

Time.

Oh time. 

Why are you such a precious commodity that always seems to be about six inches out of reach? The daily to-do's get pushed to another day...and then another. On Friday nights, we dream about you and all the great ways we're going to use you over the next couple of days, and then poof, in a blink and a breath, you are once again slipping away from us. 

Oh time.

That feeling of never having enough seems so much harsher now with a 16-month old and a job and a household. Responsibilities. Bills. Life. 

A few years ago, in an effort to stay on top of things, I bought a decorative wicker basket to keep my stash of to-do's. You know-- bills to pay, 401k statements to look over, pet health care reminders to call on...

And this. A handwritten note from my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Christine Perryman, dated March 9, 2012, a full 25 years after I had been in her class.

                                     

Mrs. Perryman had bumped into my mother and they chatted, as they so often did. My mom shared the news that I had recently had a miscarriage, and Mrs. Perryman was deeply saddened by the loss. Not long after their conversation, I received this incredibly thoughtful note, which in part said:

"It seems life can be so trying...so always remember to lean on God and don't quit smiling your beautiful smile! I will be praying for you."



I was beyond touched. The fact that a teacher I had had more than two decades prior was still thinking about me was beautiful and exactly what I needed to heal from the loss of my baby.

So I put the note in my wicker basket with the excited intent to thank Mrs. Perryman and tell her how much it meant. But a move from Chicago to New York City, a new job, and later a big bundle of joy named Jack, always seemed to get in the way.

Sadly today, I got the news that I'll never be able to share with Mrs. Perryman just how much that note meant to me. At just 53 years old, she passed away after a long battle with cancer. Her time was taken away much, much too soon.

Mrs. Perryman wasn't just a teacher, she was THE teacher. The best. My favorite. The one that made me get it. The one who turned my C's and D's into A's and the honor roll. She turned me from someone who was totally disinterested in learning to someone who couldn't soak it up quickly enough. In college, when I got a two-year tuition scholarship, my family and I joked that we should send her a check as a thank you. She was patient, and fun, and beautiful, and smart and everything I wanted to be.

Dang you time.

Today, with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I say thank you Mrs. Perryman. 

I'm so sorry I didn't say it sooner. 

My mom found my 4th grade report card. Mrs. Perryman shared sweet words back then too.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reporter and photographer killed on live TV

My heart is so heavy. I've been fighting back tears all day and I'm no longer winning that fight as I sit at my desk thinking about the Virginia news reporter and photographer murdered early this morning on live TV. It's a story that is so utterly shocking and disgusting, that throughout the day, I've had to remind myself that it's real.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward drove into work early this morning, just like it was any other day. They loaded their gear into the live truck....perhaps Alison put on her makeup while Adam drove...perhaps they turned up the radio to listen to and sing along to their favorite song...perhaps they spoke about the love they had for their fiancee and boyfriend, whom they left behind at the station when they departed. What they never imagined is that around 6:45 am, a former co-worker they had only worked with for a short time, would open fire on them, and record the whole incident on his cell phone in a sickening final gesture.


This story hits so unbelievably close to home because I was that reporter. I was the 24-year old budding journalist working in small market TV. I was the morning reporter who interviewed representatives from the chamber of commerce about tourism. I was the one secretly dating a co-worker who would later become my husband. I was the one who loved working with my morning photographer and would take silly photos together and laugh until our bellies hurt. I was the one who had people come up and watch my live shots. I was the one who had my back turned so I could face the interview subject, making me unaware of what anyone was doing behind me. I was Alison Parker.

Working in television news can be scary. There were certainly bad neighborhoods, bad situations, standoffs, hurricanes and sketchy people that made me worry for my safety. But it was never on a warm summer morning in August while promoting a tourism event. I guess that is perhaps our only solace-- that Alison and Adam never saw it coming.

To the families of Alison and Adam, and to Vicki Gardner who is recovering from her gunshot wounds, the nation mourns with you. Our hearts are heavy. There are no words except to say we are praying for you today.  




Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to earn money back for shopping online

In New York City, I do a lot of online shopping. It seems silly, I know, that I'm mere miles from some of the best shopping in the world, but with a job and a baby, finding the time to go out and fight the crowds is few and far between.

I have to let you in on perhaps the best kept secret in online shopping. Ebates. Have you heard of it? You literally get cash back for shopping online, and yes, it's truly that simple. Look what I just got back from a recent online trip to Macys.com:


$93.95! Just for shopping online! Mike needed a couple of new suits (I threw in a pair of strappy sandals), Macy's was offering 16% cash back, and boom...I scored almost $100 for just clicking a couple of buttons of the ol' mouse. 

Here's how it works: sign up for a free online account. Then it will show you all the hundreds (thousands?) of stores that offer cash back. You click on those stores through the Ebates site, and voila...you're on your way to earning 1-16% back, depending on the store.

I even took it a step further and installed Ebates on my browser, so it automatically tells me each time I click into a website that it is Ebates friendly. (Do you see the red "E" on the right? That's it.) I then click on the "activate cash back" button and I'm all set. Your money is either sent to you via a check in the mail or through PayPal. (I just signed up for PayPal to save the paper.)

Since I started using this in late December, I've earned nearly $350 back!!! That's crazy. 



I would HIGHLY encourage you to sign up, and it would be amazing if you'd join through my referral link. (You get $20-$30 for referring people too...yippee!)
http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=AYXj7iHxDLG%2BF1WlhqkQTQ%3D%3D&eeid=26471
In case they ask, my account is under Jeannie Evanchan, jeanniecrofts@yahoo.com.

It's the best thing EVER! Now, go do some shopping :-) xo





Thursday, March 12, 2015

We aren't vaccinating our baby. Here's why...

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate...that is the question. It's certainly a topic that has parents heated on both sides. As the mother to an adorable, smiley and super fun 9-month old son, I can tell you that I only want what's best for him. And for me, that choice is to not vaccinate. Before you criticize, take a look at my top reasons why:

  • We live in New York City. A city of 8 million people-- the densest city in America with 27,000 people per square mile. Why should our son be the one to get vaccinated? There are 7,999,999 other people who should. Not our son, no way.
  • To that point, we have decided it's probably not safe to take him on the subway. Or the bus. Or a ferry. Or the playground. Luckily for us, he can't get into daycare since he's unvaccinated or see his pediatrician because she only sees vaccinated kids, so we're going to just keep him in a nice and protected bubble in our apartment. He will co-sleep and breastfeed until he's 10-- and I'm sure he'll be a totally well-adjusted adult.
  • We have chosen not to vaccinate our son just like we've chosen not to put him in a car seat. Nope, it's laps all the way for us. Nor will he wear a seat belt or sit in a booster seat. If at anytime he has an open bleeding wound, we will not take him to the doctor. We have opted for the parenting philosophies called "We don't want no sissies" and "We don't give in to societal pressure."
  • We have decided not to vaccinate because that one UK doctor and Jenny McCarthy bring up some super valid points. True, Jenny McCarthy posed in Playboy and that doctor had his medical license revoked, and yes he was found guilty of "serious professional misconduct," and yes his study was discredited, and yes he only studied 12 kids, but that's some scary shit. Fear over fact, every time. 
  • We have decided not to vaccinate because it's not like these diseases even exist anymore. I hear that measles outbreak at Disneyland was just the liberal media trying to scare us. (Or wait, was it conservative lawmakers?) Either way, I'm not buying it. Oh and I love how they try to convince us that the disease has a 90% transmission rate among people who are not immunized. #Lies #Liberalagenda 
  • We have chosen not to vaccinate because autism is at an all-time high. So is our population, pollution and use of pesticides, but remember, Dr. Wakefield said it was vaccines. So I believe him because he has had an MD at the end of his name. 
  • And finally...we have decided not to vaccinate our kid...because, get real. Of course we're vaccinating him! When I look at Jack and hear his adorable laughter and see his sweet smile with just two bottom teeth, I know without a moment's hesitation that I would jump in front of a speeding train for him. I would take a bullet. I would fight off a grizzly bear. And despite my fears about him going out into this great, big, unforgiving world, I know that I'm doing everything I can as a mother to keep him safe and protected. And a major part of that is getting him vaccinated. 
Parents-- I know it's scary. I know the dark thoughts that keep us up at night, the visions of something bad happening, being worried nearly sick over our children. But I promise you, getting them the protection they need against highly contagious viruses and diseases in this huge, highly-mobile world, is the best decision you can make.

Now, should I take away the matches and knives he's playing with? 

P.S.- No need to post comments trying to sway me not to vaccinate. It will NEVER happen.

P.P.S- If you don't vaccinate your kids and we're friends or neighbors, let me know, because we will avoid you like the plague (just like the one you're trying to bring back). 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How to become a true New Yorker- curse out a woman at LaGuardia

In two and a half years of living in NYC (and three years in Chicago prior to that) I've dealt with plenty of long lines, traffic, crowded sidewalks and stores. But I decided long ago that it's a tax of sorts for living in a really cool, culturally-rich location that everyone else wants to be in too. And I credit it with actually making me more patient. In fact, it usually doesn't faze me when someone bumps into me or doesn't hold a door, because I get that people are in a hurry and are often totally oblivious. Instead I try to remember the people who are polite and I usually make over them with a, "Thank you! You are too kind!!" I even told one man who went out of his way to hold the elevator that he was a really good person sprinkling lots of karma in the world.

Well...I guess even the most laid-back person can lose it every now and again as evidenced when my alter ego Sasha Fierce took over last night and I told a woman trying to steal our cab to, "Shut the fuc* up!" Here's how it went down...



My mom and I took my 8-month old son, Jack, to Florida for a wonderful 10-day winter getaway. We landed at LaGuardia with tons of bags, so I decided to rent a "smart carte." Before I put my credit card into the machine, a worker with a giant cart said he would help us for the same price. "Great!" I said, knowing the extra help would be needed with a baby. After he loaded the bags, we headed for the cab line. There wasn't room for the cart, so the worker directing cabs told us to go wait past the cab stand, and he would send the next available SUV or van cab to us so we'd have room. Perfect.

We waited for several minutes while the smaller cabs picked up other passengers. Finally, an SUV pulled up so we started making our way to it. At the same time, an older looking woman darted toward the cab and started getting into it. The cab line guy realized what was happening and told the woman, "I'm sorry, they were here first. This is their cab. We'll get you the next one."

Well, she wasn't having it.

This was clearly a woman who isn't used to waiting. She is, however, used to wearing a full-length fur coat, not thanking the doorman in her Upper East Side building for helping her with her bags and sending her fork back at restaurants because it has spots on it. (Okay, true, I'm making assumptions on all of this based on her bitchy resting face and attitude, but I'm judgmental a very good judge of character.)

We continued loading our bags, but the woman kept bitching about how we cut, how it was her cab, how rude we were, yada yada, and she wouldn't walk away. There were other cabs behind her, but she was not giving up the dream.

I couldn't take it anymore and yelled, "Listen lady, we've been waiting for 10 minutes for a larger cab, so you need to shut the fuc* up and go away!"

She looked absolutely appalled and turned to my mom and said, "Wow, the mouth on that one."

I think she expected my mom to scold me but instead she told the woman, "Well, you brought it on yourself and you really need to go away. Bitc*." (Okay, true, my mom didn't actually cuss, but I think that would have been funny. And it would have totally secured us a mother/daughter guest spot on Jerry Springer.)

The woman kept mouthing off, so I looked her right in the eye and yelled, "You think the mouth was bad? You ain't seen nothing yet!"

Wow, who knew I had it in me?

I looked over and the cart guy was grinning at me ear to ear. I'm sure he's wanted to say the same thing.

The moral of this story: yes, I could have handled the situation better, but how can anyone act like that, especially when a baby is waiting in the cold for a cab? I'm just hoping someone taped it with their cell phone so I can get a gig on the "Real Housewives of New York City." I'm totally ready to take on Ramona.

Days before my Sasha Fierce transformation











Monday, January 26, 2015

Northeast braces for 'potentially historic' snowstorm by fighting over bacon

I read on Twitter last night that two men at the grocery store got into a fight over bacon. Yes, bacon. Nothing says storm preps like breaking someone's nose for a cured pig product.

The Northeast is planning for a major snowstorm that will could dump a ton of snow-- some even say record-breaking-- so people all over New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and more are doing exactly what the news is telling them to do: they are going ape-shit crazy and buying everything they can get their hands on.

Including bacon.



This is what drives me nuts about severe weather. News stations go crazy with wall-to-wall coverage talking about the impending doom (which is always major, according to them), so eventually everyone at home panics and feels like they must go buy 7 times more food than they need. For viewers, it's further exasperated by the fact that when they go to the grocery, everyone else is panicking and filling their carts to the brim, and suddenly the hoarding mentality tells them it makes sense to fight over bacon.

Here are my top 5 reasons why y'all need to calm down.

  1. News stations' ratings go up when they do weather coverage, so they do a lot of it. And they go overboard. Take it with a grain of salt.
  2. As a former news gal, I know that reporters have to fill 1.5 to 2 minutes during their weather live shots, so they will also hype up that people are buying supplies and hunkering down. Also take it with a grain of sidewalk salt. (I once had to do snow coverage when it wasn't snowing. That is how smart TV stations are.)
  3. Okay, so say you are stuck in your house for two days. For me, this is what I call a weekend. Trust me, you have enough food. 
  4. Just because you can't leave the house for a few days doesn't mean that you need to buy several gallons of milk, tons of bread, eggs, bacon-- unless suddenly you've become a 400-pound man who can only leave the house after rescuers cut a hole in the wall and lift you out with a forklift.
  5. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean you have to.




As an environmentalist, it's hard seeing all these empty shelves, because I know how much of this food will get trashed after it goes bad. Americans throw away 133 BILLION pounds every year.

So my advice--relax, be careful and don't go crazy. The only item you should be stocking up on: wine.