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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Revisit to the Easter Parade 2018 on 5th Avenue

So I attended my 2nd Easter Parade this year, and it went much better than last year. It was much cooler, I was ready for the crowds of people and got some really cool shots for you to enjoy. It is a very neat thing to attend, and I highly recommend to be on your bucket list.  
I loved these two folks, so photogenic! I LOVE her jacket and hat! 
These ladies were very elegant and just looked so fantastic  
This shot came out great with the back drop of St. Patrick's Cathedral  
This is a bit goth looking but I still love it  
Such a cool hat, not sure if the lady made it herself or someone did it for her. It screams SPRING!  
This group reminded me of that fabulous Amazon show- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - which I need to watch for a 3rd time. It is that good.  
I have no idea what this guy was going for but it was interesting  
This guy was being interviewed about his hat  
These 2 little dogs were cute until they started fighting with each other!  
How great are these two? Just love them  
Very pretty flower hat here  
These ladies had cupcake hats - just adorable  
Love these two, just everything, how great is that pink handbag?  
I am a huge Faberge egg fan and these ladies had the right idea FABULOUS  
Outfits very loud here, you cannot miss this couple if you tried!  
SAVE ME as in the earth, cute idea and I do love the hat with the Easter Eggs on it  
This ladies whole outfit was just gorgeous and I love the colors!  
Elegance even from the back  
Anyone need a bunny ears?  
The lady in the lime green reminded me of a Pan Am girl - love the dress and matching hat  
This group was loads of fun  
I love his jacket full of butterflies 

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Bumbleberry Farms Honey Cream Spreads

Honey Cream Spread - sounds quite luxurious, doesn't it ? I am a HUGE fan of honey and making it into a spread just makes it even better. I was thrilled when Bumbleberry Farms contacted me to try their new line of honey cream spreads. The lovely flavors are Lover's Sea Salt Caramel, Squirrel Crazy, Sticky Buns Cinnamon and Molten Lava Spiced Chocolate

The average worker honeybee makes just 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. This means it takes 1,152 honeybees to fill a one pound jar of honey! Honey is also one of the foods that never spoils and was actually found in the pyramids in Egypt. 

Bumbleberry Farms is a small operation based in Pennsylvania's Laurel Mountains, and everything is crafted in small batches. 

These spreads are great on just about EVERYTHING or on a spoon right out of the jar! Scones, oatmeal, toast, pancakes, yogurt, muffins, baking are some of the uses for these creams. 

You can even melt the honey cream to add to coffee drinks or smoothies! I love the fact that even though they store in the fridge once opened, they are still spreadable very easily. 

Here is a fantastic recipe from their website for Pork Chops with the Maple Cream as a glaze: 

Pork Chops:

4 bone-in, center cut pork chop

Olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Maple Balsamic Glaze:

1/4 cup Squirrel Crazy Maple Cream

3-4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp vegetable stock

1 clove garlic, minced

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the glaze:

In a small saucepan, combine all of the glaze ingredients. Heat over medium-low heat until it reaches a low boil (just be cautious, the cream has sugar in it, so be sure it doesn't burn). Cook until the sauce reduces slightly and then set aside.

For the pork chops:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Dry the pork chops with a paper towel and then season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place a drizzle of oil in an oven proof skillet and heat to medium-high. Place the pork chops in the skillet and sear them for 2-3 minutes. Brush them with the glaze.

Flip the pork chops over and brush the other side with the glaze. Transfer the pork chops to the oven and bake for 5-8 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 140 degrees.

Drizzle a bit more glaze to serve.

These would make a great gift for Mom for Mother's Day or any foodie lover in your life. I love unique items and especially small businesses - these are available online at Bumbleberry Farms 

You can also follow Bumbleberry Farms on social media for new products and recipes: Instagram Twitter Facebook

Disclosure: I was provided the honey creams from Bumbleberry Farms for this feature. There has been no monetary compensation for this post. I only recommend products that I feel will be of interest to my readers, and that I am truly impressed by. All opinions are my own. Thank you!! 

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

10 Best New York City Tours

If anyone is a regular reader of this blog, you know how I love tours! But not those "hop-on, hop-off" buses, the real tours given by the fabulous folks who live in New York City. It took me a while to take my first tour, but once I did, I wondered why I waited so long! You can walk around on your own, but you may not know what you are looking at, or the history of the area you are enjoying. I find the food tours the best because you also have lunch or various snacks on the tour, and it hold you for the afternoon. These tours take you places you would never think to go yourself, and then later you can always go back on your own if you liked the place that much. There is no thinking involved in these guided tours, you just follow your guide and enjoy the ride! I also find these great to visit other boroughs that you may not be familiar with such as Brooklyn, Flushing and Staten Island.

Here is the listing, In No Particular Order:

1. Municipal Art Society of New York 
Meeting point varies by tour   212-935-3960
Cost: $15 or $12 for MAS members

Meeting point is 41st Street between 7th and 8th Avenue
Cost $30 and time approximately 2 hours 

3. Big Apple Greeters
A free service with native New Yorkers as your tour guide.
Meeting point varies with your choice of area
Cost is FREE but you need to make a reservation via their website

4. Noshwalks
Food walking tours that cover all 5 boroughs: Manhattan, Bronx,
Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island
Meeting point varies via tour
Cost is $50.00 and time for most tours is 3 hours

5. New York Photo Safari 
For the beginner or experienced photographer, a great selection of tours to take your best photos
Areas are The High Line, Central Park, NY after dark, Grand Central Terminal
Meeting point varies with each tour selected
Cost varies from $100 to $125 and time is 2 to 2.5 hours

6. A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours
Choose from The Pizza Tour, Neighborhood Tour or Christmas Lights Tour
Meeting point is Union Square area for all tours
Cost varies by tour from $55 to $80 and time is 4.5 hours with Holiday tour 3.5 hours

7. Ahoy New York Tours and Tasting
Fabulous food walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy
Meeting point is in Little Italy
Cost is $49.00 and time is 3 hours

8. On Location Tours
Many tours to choose from here like Sex and the City, Soprano's, Gossip Girl, TMZ Tour, Central Park TV and Movie Sites
Meeting point varies by tour
Cost varies from $22 to $70 and time varies from 2.5 to 4.5 hours

9. Urban Oyster
Many tours in Brooklyn offering Craft Beer and Brewery Tours, New New York Waterfront Tour and Lower East Side Tenement Tour
Meeting point various by tour
Cost varies from $60 to $105 and time varies from 3 to 4 hours

10. City Food Tours
Selection of tours such as Beer, Cheese and Chocolate/ NoLita/ Lower East Side/ Upper West Side/ In the Steps of a Top Chef
Meeting point varies by tour
Cost $44 to $57 and time varies from 2 to 2.5 hours

Have you been on a New York City tour? How did you like it and are they on my list ?

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Maison Kayser A New York City Favorite

We needed another stop in Maison Kayser, one of my favorite spots in the city! They have been opening more cafe's lately which is awesome, it is a unique place for a small bite to eat - breakfast, lunch or a light dinner - I adore the place. This time I tried something different, baked eggs with bechamel sauce and spinach. It was totally divine! Their iced lattes are the best as well and their pastry is legendary! If you see one of these while walking around the city, pop in and enjoy something French and fabulous!!  

Maison Kayser 
Various Locations Through New York City

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Arthouse New York Hotel Review

Classification :     Four Star
Room Category : Broadway View Deluxe King
Month of Stay :    March 2019
Resort Fee:           $35.00
Deposit:                $50.00 (non-refundable)

Trip Advisor Ranking:   180 of 499 (as of 03/25/19)
Trivago Rating:              8.5 out of 10 (as of 03/25/19)
Overall Value:             $156 - $355 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)

What kind of history goes with this hotel? The hotel was built in 1908 and most recently renovated in 2002. It was the former NYLO New York City and now is called Arthouse New York.

When you arrived, how was the lobby and customer service? The lobby is one of the best parts of the hotel, very chic with artwork displayed. No outlets however for charging your devices. The customer service was something to be desired. I called the night before to see if my room could be ready early and a very rude woman said there was a $100 charge for that. I declined and when I arrived the man at the desk said the room wouldn't be ready until 4pm but if I wanted to pay an additional $50, they could expedite the cleaning staff. I declined again but major fail on their part.

How fantastic or not so fantastic was the room? My room was to be a Broadway View Deluxe with 340 square feet but didn't seem that large. It was fine for one person but more than 2 it would be tight fit. It did not impress. There was a door on a side table near the bed that once opened, I couldn't get it to close. The safe was a decent size to hold your valuable items. The view was nice of the hotel across the street, lovely architecture.

The cleanliness of the hotel and room itself ? Cleanliness was not an issue, it shouldn't be considering the staff have about 4 hours to clean the room something fantastic.

Were you able to have sweet dreams with the comfy bed? The bed was comfortable but quite high which was a jump for a short person like myself.

The All-Important bathroom subject? Horrid. Small and decor was something out of a hospital. The tissues were similar to hospital ones as well, very rough. You could not get dressed in this bathroom so sharing this room with a friend may be interesting.

What kind of shower treats awaited you? Coffee maker in the room? Keurig in the room. Shower amenities were from Pure toiletries.

Did room service blow your mind or was just okay? It didn't exist. There is a Serafina restaurant attached to the hotel which will deliver to your room, it's an okay restaurant. Red Farm is a most fantastic place for dim sum and I enjoyed myself a lunch there which blew my mind.

Everyone wants to know, is Wi-Fi included?
No, it is a separate fee of $35 per night and states rates may vary, so that could change.

Is Fido allowed come with you? Yes up to 25lbs and for a fee of $40 per pet, per day

Location is key, how does this hotel measure? Location is great if you wish to explore the Upper West Side and/or are taking in a show at the Beacon Theater or Lincoln Center.

What was the best part of staying here? Location and Red Farm 

Would you change anything? Everything including customer service, all the add on fees, the bathrooms need remodeling and the rooms need to not look like a dorm room vibe.

Is this hotel worth it and why? Not at all. The room rate may be very low, but they kill you with fees. A deposit fee, a resort fee, a Wi-Fi fee, earlier check in fee - it is never ending. I don't feel this hotel is worth your final cost. I would not recommend to anyone to stay here.

Overall Rating: 4

There is a reason this hotel is ranked 180 on Trip Advisor but I wanted to give it a try staying in the Upper West Side. There are not a lot of hotels in this area, and many of them are older properties with very small rooms and bathrooms. I would suggest you stay around W. 57th Street,  or near Central Park and walk, cab or subway to the UWS. It is a great area to explore, but not really necessary to stay there. The customer service could be extremely improved, and the idea that you cannot get in the room until 4pm and check out is 11am is crazy. Usually times are 3pm and Noon. I have stayed at many hotels that have had my room ready by 1030am with no extra fee or have even upgraded me for free. The room decor is something to be desired and the bathroom is so very small and blah decor. I am glad I stayed here, but since this is the lowest rated of all the hotels I have stayed in the city, it is an experience I will not have again. 

Hotel prices are at their lowest in the months of January and February; their highest September and October. Sunday nights are the lowest prices for hotel rooms, in most cases. My go to places for checking prices for hotels are TrivagoTrip and Travelzoo. Always remember to check the hotel's website itself, they are really trying to have you book direct and sometimes offer specials or a discount with AAA that is cheaper than the websites I mentioned above. I am also finding that if you book on your mobile device, you can save some money as well. I actually got a better rate via my mobile phone than using my AAA discount online direct at the hotel. You should really do some research on your price for hotel a few different ways, and ALWAYS book a room that you can cancel, you never know what may happen in the future. You also want the ability to change hotels if you should find a better option closer to your date of arrival. 

Resort fees are something I am seeing at more New York hotels, about 82 of the over 400 hotels in New York City now charge. These fees can run you between $30 to $60 per night for your stay. They list services such as newspapers, in room coffee or WiFi for these fees, and if you book with a hotel that has this fee, you are obligated to pay it. When checking your prices, be sure to look for the small print if there is an additional resort fee and make your decision whether you want that additional charge. Some of the hotels in New York City that charge the fee are: Park Central Hotel $40.16, WestHouse New York $53.93, Avalon Hotel $22.95, Royalton Park Avenue $40.00, The James New York Soho $45.90, The James New York NoMad $38.11, The Warwick $25.00, The Benjamin $38.11, The Quin $21.78, Crowne Plaza Times Square $34.43, Hotel 48Lex $60.00, The Redbury New York $32.66, The Knickerbocker $34.43, The Viceroy Central Park $29.00. These prices are as of 03/25/18

Remember to take into account for your total cost the NYC Hotel tax of 14.75% plus Daily $2.00 per room occupancy fee.

Disclosure: This stay was paid for by me. I will always state at the end of each review whether my stay was paid for by myself or if I was hosted by the hotel. I will honestly tell you about my experience at this hotel, not being swayed in any way by complimentary services. I know you trust my opinion, & it is important to me to be as honest as possible.  All opinions are my own. Thank you so much.

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