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My gift to you: Dough(nuts)

13 Jul

There is a magical place in Brooklyn.  For some reason, people don’t talk about it every single day and write songs about it and build temples to it.  And I’m unclear as to why they do not.  More importantly, I’m unclear as to why my Brooklyn peeps never mentioned it to me (side eye to all of you).

It’s called Dough.  As in dense, doughy, baked goodness.

I’d like to pre-qualify this rave review by saying that I am not a doughnut person.  I’m not into desserts or super sweet things. Give me a bowl of pasta any day over a baked good.  One day, though, the doughnut gods brought me a coconut cream doughnut from Donut Plant in the Lower East Side, and I was smitten.  But shortly thereafter, I moved out of Manhattan, and I worried that I’d never again wake up on a Saturday morning and be in close proximity to a doughnut I loved.  Silly me.  Knowing there is always a plethora of specialty food joints in the city (of every type and cost), I turned to the interwebs to help me find more fried, sweet deliciousness, closer to my new hood.  And the interwebs told me I needed to go to Dough.

On the corner of Franklin and Lafayette, in Bed-Stuy, Dough is a little baking factory that produces the most perfectly dense, delectably sweet, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts of all time.  These gooey devils are big; they’re only $2 each; and they’re in seemingly never-ending supply.  Unlike my old friend, Donut Plant, Dough makes a continual supply of doughnuts all day – if you show up after 11 AM, you’re not in danger of missing out on your fave flave.

 

My first experience with the shop happened last weekend.  In an effort not to pine for Manhattan on Saturday, I set out on a walking tour of my new hood.  I found tons of cute little restaurants and shops that I made mental notes to check out.  I walked to Target twice (it’s only 15 minutes away, on foot!).  And, I ate TWO giant Dough doughnuts.  It was ridiculous how full I was, but I Could. Not. Stop.  I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking:

The chocolate-covered one (with cocoa “nibs”) made its Dunkin’ Donuts counterparts look like garbage – and that had always been my favorite as a kid.  But for me, the real show-stopper at Dough was the glazed guy.  Think Krispy Kreme, minus the feeling of “that was gone so fast that I feel like I just ate air”.  These donuts have substance.  They’ve got just the right amount of moisture and density in the cake part, and the toppings are perfectly complementary in proportion.  But they still melt when they hit your tongue.  My mouth is watering just talking about this.

I brought a box of doughnuts into my office for my co-workers yesterday morning, and the general consensus was that they were, in fact, amazeballs.  They were devoured.  And so I thought I’d pass along the good word.  I’ll risk having to stand in line for my doughnut if more people find out about this place, so that you and all your friends can also partake in this yummy experience.

Dough doesn’t have a website as far as I can see, so here are the deets:

  • 305 Franklin Avenue at Lafayette Avenue
  • Take the G to Classon Ave and walk 1 block east.
  • Hours seem to be from early AM (they were open before 8 AM yesterday) until about 5 PM
  • Flavors change with the season and the day, but their standards seem to stay the same (glazed, chocolate covered, hibiscus, lemon-poppy)
  • Cash only
  • Hunger required

Go in peace…to love and eat doughnuts.

 

Images:  (1) Yelp, all others Rebecca for Happy City Living

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The Set-up

12 Jul

DISCLAIMER!:  This is a “progress” post.  It is not a “finished/pretty/look-at-me” post.  The dregs from the bottoms of my moving boxes are still lurking about in my apartment, without a home to be tucked away in, and there is no art on the walls yet.  Please use your rose colored glasses when you check out these pics.  Merci beaucoup.

The fact of the matter in all apartment living is that great furniture arrangement is both difficult and vital.  Correct placement of the larger items in your home helps to maximize whatever space you have (or at least it plays tricks on your eyes to make the space LOOK bigger).  However, city dwellers are always contending with structural obstacles.  You need to place your lamps near outlets so that you’re not living in a web of extension cords.  Your dresser can’t get up close enough the the corner of your bedroom because there’s a wall bump-out for plumbing or electrical.  The one wall that fits your couch also houses your air conditioner, causing that to be blocked.  The list of potential interior design issues is endless in apartment living.

I’d sort of figured that if I could arrange all of my large pieces in a studio apartment, then going back to a 1BR would be cake.  But by the time my sister came to visit last weekend, the schematics of my home still seemed “off”.  Granted, there were residual boxes sitting around and a giant bookcase lying face down on the middle of the living room floor (more on that later).

But my sister, Sar, is a gal of many talents, and having arranged her own small studio apartment in DC, she was able to lend a hand.  Plus, a fresh set of eyes on a conundrum never hurts.  After humming and hawing over my obnoxiously boxy overstuffed chair (it is ALWAYS the problem child in my collection of furniture), this is what we came up with for the living room:


For the kitchen, I just copied the set-up that the last folks had because it worked (the white bins are just hanging around because they don’t have a permanent, concealed spot yet):

The bathroom didn’t require any arranging, with the exception of towels and accessories:

The bedroom posed the largest problem.  Sar and I moved the furniture to seemingly every conceivable position.  The bedroom space is actually quite large, but I have an extra piece of furniture that I always love to incorporate into the set-up.  It’s an antique chaise from good old Aunt Betty, and it’s my most prized possession.  Unfortunately, a queen-size bed, a large dresser, AND a chaise lounge are a lot for any bedroom to hold.  So, each time I’d set things up in the bedroom last weekend, I’d sit there and think, “Now, THIS could work…oh shit, the chaise has to go somewhere.”  And then I’d be back at square one.  Agent Owens will laugh as he reads this because he despises the chaise and always tells me there’s no place for extraneous furniture in apartment living.  I always beg to differ.  Still, after a half-dozen failed arrangements, this is what I came up with:

I’m happy with everything the way it’s placed now, but there are no guarantees that I won’t look around one day and decide to shuffle everything.  I’m secretly hoping my designer friend and colleague, Joe, will come over one day and use his creative genius to tell me where everything SHOULD go.

So, there you have it.  The new digs.  As I mentioned and as you can see there are still piles of junk still lying around:  papers I still need to sort through, oddly shaped objects that I need to find a home for, art that’s waiting to go up on the walls.  One of these days when I look around and notice that everything is tidy and in its rightful place, I’ll post new shots.  Until then I’ll be on the phone fighting with the 163268995367834th  representative I’ve spoken to from Time Warner Cable, who’s surely still proving to be useless. Over a week without cable and internet, in the year 2011, just seems cruel. And ridiculous.

Anyone have any furniture arranging debacles of there own? Anyone see any obvious flaws in my set-up that I’ve missed?  Speak up and help a girl out!

 

Images:  All images Rebecca for Happy City Living

 

Oh, Mr. Wong

6 Jul

Mr. Wong did it again. He moved all of my worldly possessions (of which there are many) in the blink of an eye, driving away from the job as I stood in my doorway with my mouth open.

Yes, I filled this truck.

Let’s start from the beginning. The last time I moved (from Harlem to Battery Park City) I spent 3 weeks packing. I was so excited to be moving to downtown Manhattan that I started putting everything into boxes the moment my lease was signed. Unfortunately, this meant that I lived in chaos, without the day-to-day items I needed, for the better part of a month. Boo.

This time I decided I could surely get everything packed in a week. Afterall, I was moving out of a studio this time, and I’d downsized a bit. But then life got in the way and packing was put on the back burner. So in the end, I packed in only a few days. Thankfully, my friend Amber helped me out one night, and since she is a super-focused organization freak, shit got taken care of. The final odds and ends always end up piling up more than you expect them to, though, and the night before moving day I was up until 2:30 AM squirreling things away.

This is all of my stuff packed in boxes at the old apartment. Every square inch from the front of the pile to the windows, is full.

Vader and Johnny thought the pile of stuff was a jungle gym. Here Vader is, debating how to jump up to the tallest piece of bedframe board and balance himself there.

A few moments after I’d groggily gotten myself out of bed the next morning, I got a call from Mr. Wong. He had arrived at the entrance to my apartment complex, and the security guards wouldn’t let him in. Why? Because he was an hour and twenty minutes early.  The building won’t let trucks in before 9 AM, as I’d mentioned when I scheduled Mr. Wong for the earliest available moving slot.  But at 7:40, he was already duking it out with the guard in the booth.  I went downstairs to play peacekeeper and Mr. Wong reluctantly drove down the block to wait after being promised that he’d be the first one allowed in the complex at 9:00.

Once 9:00 finally arrived, the move-out went as smoothly as I thought it would.  In 52 minutes, Mr, Wong and his partner had moved everything out of the apartment and into the truck.  Mr. Wong moved everything from the apartment into the elevator, and his partner retrieved the elevator loads and moved them onto the truck.  The most mind boggling moment was when the partner guy picked up my couch and carried it to the truck, single-handedly.  WTF?!?!?!?!?!  If you google the phrase “brute strength”, I swear a photo of these two men will pop up.

I wrote down the address of the new apartment, and off we all drove to Brooklyn.  I thought that the stairs at my new place might throw my miracle movers for a loop.  My new apartment is one flight up, which means you can’t just load things into an elevator and roll them in the door.  But I was Wong  wrong.  Stairs are no obstacle.  The move-in was completed in a little over an hour.  Ridiculous.

Mr. Wong (in blue) and his partner, offloading the truck. One of the few times the two of them were in the same place at the same time.

These shelves are heavy. Most people would carry one shelf at a time up a flight of stairs. Mr. Wong carried FOUR.

Mr. Wong's partner has a stack of 4 full plastic tubs on a hand truck in this photo. He did not take them upstairs one at a time. He backed up the stairs, pulling the stack up one stair at a time. The strength required to do that is immeasureable.

Loading the goods into my new living room.

And so, by noon, I was on the road back to my old apartment to clean up, paint the walls back to white (the existing cream and tan walls were not acceptable; they had to be Arctic White), turn in the keys, and have my last round of Battery Park City halal from my cart guy.  With the help of my parents and Aunt Betty, it was all done by 4:30, and we headed back to Clinton Hill to unpack and grab some dinner.

Me, with all my belongings behind me.

My parents always insist that the first thing you have to do in a new apartment is set up the bed.  That way, when you run out of gas in the late evening, you can just go straight to sleep.  Smart?  Yes.  So, that’s what we did.

By the time my friend (and new neighbor), Biscut, came by for dinner (pizza from Not Ray’s – don’t even get me started on this pizza; I’ve eaten it 4 times in the last week), the bed was made, the kitchen and bathroom were unpacked, and half of my clothing pile was put away.  Boo-ya.

Lots of stuff strewn across the floor, but note the neatly tucked in bed. Ahh, comfort.

And then I crashed.  The sheer exhaustion from packing, moving, cleaning, painting, and unpacking knocked me out instantly.  I hate to go to sleep before the full un-pack is done, but I just couldn’t function any longer.  And so this post has to crash, too.  Yup, that’s all she wrote for one day….literally.  HA, I crack myself up!

Tune in over the next couple of days for furniture arrangements and more on Not Ray’s Pizza.  Oh yea, and you’ll probably get a rant about Time Warner somewhere along the line, too.  A week after moving in, I still have no cable or internet.  Not a good look.  So in order to blog tonight, I’m here at a random cutesy coffee house near my house with the rest of the neighborhood’s 20-something white girl population (maybe TWC f’d them over too?).  It’s a cute place with good food and outdoor space, and at the moment they’re trying to funk-i-fy it with some Fugees tunes.  White girls gotta have their jams.  Ah, gentrification, you bastard.

Told ya it was cute. The twinkle lights are out in a patio, in the back.

Anyway, if you’re reading this, you probs have internet and cable, so say “wut up” to reality TV for me.  Oh, how I miss you, HGTV and Bravo!

TTYL!

Plowing Through, Full Speed Ahead

6 Jul

Hello again! It feels like ages since I’ve posted…probably because it has been!

Real talk: it’s been a shitty past 2 weeks for this girl.  I’ve been dealt a bunch of major personal challenges all at once, and they have been TOUGH.  So, as any good drama queen knows, when the universe falls outta wack, the best option for dealing with everything is to curl up in the fetal position on your bed and cry it out with a glass of Pinot on your nightstand.  Check, check, and check!  Unfortunately, no pearls of blogging genius were spewing from my brain during this period, and who really wants to read whiney crap?  No one, that’s who.

This was from another rough week back in college, but the staples of the recovery process are the same: wine, a large pot of pasta, and some sappy girl tunes (note the "old fashioned" ipods).

I did break up the personal pity party, though, SOMEtimes over the past couple of weeks.  I went to work, I walked from my bedroom to my kitchen to retrieve cold pizza from the fridge, and one day I even shifted my sad sack body to the couch to watch Love Actually (cue more crying)…oh yea, and I moved.

That’s right.  I am officially a Clinton Hill resident.  Mr. Wong did his thing, and I’m in!  I never like to waste any time getting to the unpacking portion of moving, so that’s pretty much done, too.  And I’ve rearranged the furniture no fewer than 50 times, so the apartment is finally looking the way I’d hoped it would.

Exhausted from just completing the move, but happy because my friend Biscut now lives nearby! See those glasses of water? Yea, they were replaced with beers and gin & tonics about 10 seconds after this photo was taken.

Yup, I’m settled in, and I’m loving the extra space (when you’re used to a studio, a 1BR feels like a mansion).  And the kitty babies are doing a happy dance since they can now see exciting stuff from the windows, like birds in the backyard (I swear, to these cats, a bird flying by is like watching the Superbowl on a huge flatscreen).  They’re so distracted that they’ve even stopped waking me up at 5:30 AM!  So, I guess it’s actually me who should be doing the happy dance.

Any-who…details of the move and photos of the new place are forthcoming.  So, stay tuned.  It’s good to be back!  And in the spirit of happy stuff, leave a comment telling me what fun fun fun stuff you did for the 4th of July.  It’s a fave holiday in my parents’ house, so there are always major festivities and tons of beach-going.  This year was no exception.  What did you do?  Here’s hoping you’re sufficiently tanned.

Xoxo

Here’s The Situation

16 Jun

If you’re an out-of-towner, you probably think my recent posts about rental prices in New York are ludicrous.  You’re thinking, “No wonder this girl is in the process of moving!  No one in their right mind would pay so much money for a shoebox apartment!”  You’re right:  it is totally crazy-pants.  But for folks who are familiar with NYC apartment pricing, the prices I’ve mentioned are par for the course.  And it may seem odd that two gainfully employed adults (Agent Owens and me) can’t afford $1000/month, each, to continue living in an apartment they love (read all about why we’re moving here and our new Clinton Hill place here).   If you’ve been reading Happy City Living, you probably also know that in the past I paid $1300/month (by myself) to live in Sunset Park and $1600/month (by myself) to live in Harlem.  So, why did I recently put myself through all the agita of apartment hunting, over $1000/month each?

Well, for Agent Owens and me, our living situation recently took a pretty drastic turn.  Agent Owens got a great new job offer within his agency – YAY!  But it required working in Philadelphia for the next two years – BOO.  To be honest, though, we were both thrilled for him to get the job, and he loves Philadelphia almost as much as I love New York.  So, overall, it was a great turn of events.

Us, in front of Independence Hall. Taking photos outside of the building is as close to an historical experience as I need to have. History and me - not BFFs.

Although I’m crazy biased and in love with New York, I should be fair here and tell you there are some things to really love about Philadelphia.  First of all, it’s close to New York, haha!  Ok, but seriously.  It’s a clean, vibrant, walk-able city.  Plus, there’s a great path for biking and jogging along the Schuylkill River (try saying that name 3 times fast – or, even one time!), that leads to the Wissahickon Park (where do they GET these names?????).  For bike-a-holics like Agent Owens, this quick escape from the hustle-bustle of the city is an amazing amenity.  The city also has fun going-out spots, pretty neighborhoods with historic buildings, and all the conveniences of big city living.

And, most notably, the aptly named Philly Cheesesteaks the city has to offer are Out. Of. This. World.  I’d eaten some bullsh*t cheesesteaks here in NYC at some point, and as a result I thought I didn’t like cheesesteaks.  I’ve never been more wrong, and my growing waistline (acquired since our Philly stint) is proof of that.  If you can’t get to Philly, try Carl’s Steaks in NYC.  They’re pretty amazeballs, and they’re the best you’ll find in New York.  But if you reeeeeally want the best of the best, hit up Jim’s Steaks in Illy.  Yes, I said Illy.  I’m a half-resident of that town now, and I’m allowed to use that name because that’s what the cool kids say. I think.  Anyway, Jim’s is on South Street at the corner of 4th Street.  Every Philly-goer has their fave cheesesteak spot – you might have heard of the more famous Pat’s   and Geno’s – and Jim’s is our go-to.  The line wrapping around the corner of the building at busy times is proof that we’re right.

It's hoppin' at Jim's! See the mob by the front door? That's the line.

But wait…apartments…how did I get so far off on a tangent?  Food always seems to do that to me!  Well, as I was saying, Agent Owens now spends a good chunk of time in Philly each week for work, necessitating a second apartment.  The need for that second home (which comes with an oh-so-fun second monthly rent payment), combined with The Gate’s recent rent hike, was just too much for our poor wallets.  So, we had to make a move, and in a short two weeks I’ll be off to the suburbs tree-lined streets of Brooklyn.

As I get closer to moving into the new digs, I’m actually getting more and more excited. The thought of more space, a roof deck, and a fairly new building makes me a little giddy.  Although, I haven’t been giddy enough to start packing yet. Hmmm, maybe I should get on that.

So, the happy city couple is now straddling two cities. Is it a little bit annoying to have to ever step foot into another city that ISN’T New York? Yes. But, truthfully, Agent Owens carries the brunt of the travel burden. So, I should stop being whiny.

Plus, I always remind myself that when I’m in Philly I’m right around the corner from MODG’s house. Oh you don’t know MODG? She’s the hilarious Philadelphia-area blogger behind Martinis Or Diaper Genies, who weighs the pros and cons of her former responsibility-free lifestyle and her current life as a new parent.  You should check her out right here. Hers was the first blog I ever became addicted to, and you’ll become obsessed, too (mostly if you’re a 20/30-something female). I try to relay the hilarity of this blog to Agent Owens, but he’s firmly on the “Martinis” side of the MODG debate, and he gets a glazed-over, comatose look on his face when I mention the words “baby,” “child,” or “kid.” Plus, he doesn’t care about high heels or Suri Cruise, which are two other hot topics over in MODG-land. But 1 zillion fanatical readers (and me) can’t be wrong.  I love MODG, and I tell myself that if I hang out in Philly long enough I’ll totally run into her and we’ll become BFFs on the spot. It’ll be fate. Fo shizz.

MODG: Ninja? Mom? Shoe-a-holic? All of the above.

So, tell me.  Anyone else juggling two apartments? Or two cities for that matter? Anyone think Agent Owens and I are nuts for renting two apartments in two of the most expensive cities in the country? Heck, I think we’re nutty half the time!  If you can offer up a cool new Philly activity or place of interest you’ll totally get bonus points…in the game of good karma and life in general. Deal? K.

Xoxo,
Happy Double-City Rebecca

 

Images:  (1) Rebecca for Happy City Living, (2) Jim’s Steaks, (3) Martinis or Diaper Genies

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

6 Jun

…I’m yours!  I mean…it’s mine!  My credit was approved within a couple of hours today, and I met the condo owners to sign my new lease tonight.  So, I guess now all I need to do is call Mr. Wong, right?  Don’t worry, I’ll get you some pics of this move.  Now, I’m off to rest easy.  Goodnight!

Clinton Hill, Here I Come

5 Jun

Well folks, I made a decision. You may recall from my last post that I was deciding between three apartments, since my lease at The Gate is up at the end of June.  Just to recap, here were the choices:

  • Option 1:  Stay in Battery Park City and pay $200 more, per month, in rent.
  • Option 2:  Sign a lease on a large, well-priced 1BR apartment in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn that boasts some nice outdoor space.
  • Option 3:  Save some money by moving back up to Harlem, where the rent at my old place (Riverton) is now around $1400/month.

Painful as it is to leave our beloved Battery Park City, we just could not justify paying $2050/month for a studio (call us crazy!).  And since Agent Owens and I had decided to leave Harlem a mere 14 months ago, we felt like we just weren’t ready to go back yet.  That said, the decision has been made to go with the apartment in Clinton Hill!

Wikipedia offers a great map of the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Clinton Hill is in the northern, central part of the borough.

Trust me, over the course of the weekend there was plenty of bellyaching on my part about the fact that I didn’t know which option to pick.  I think Agent Owens was prepared to break up with me if I uttered the whiny phrase, “I just don’t knoooow what to doooooo!” one more time.  It’s hard to give up living in an area you love so much, and it’s equally hard to pass up a chance to pay $1400/month in rent, for a large 1BR.  But still, I was being a little bit Scarlet O’Hara.

Fortunately, for everyone involved, the decision needed to be made relatively fast.  I have to tell The Gate whether I’m staying or leaving, by tomorrow.  And, I needed to submit an application on the Clinton Hill place ASAP, if I was going to go that route.  Time was a-tickin’.

In the end, we chose Clinton Hill, and I think we made a great choice.  Truthfully, Clinton Hill (as a neighborhood) is a big unknown for me, which is a little scary but mostly exciting.  Turns out, though, that we’ll be with family in the new place.  Agent Owens’s brother and his wife live about 4 blocks from the apartment, and they gave us a little tour of the immediate surrounding area today, en route to brunch.  Plus, I have some family friends in the neighborhood, and we have several college friends within walking distance.  Party in Brooklyn!

If you're familiar with Brooklyn, the Clinton Hill neighborhood is outlined here.

As for the apartment itself, we’ll be renting a condo from owners who are moving to Connecticut (where I’m from!  Seemed auspicious!).  The finishes are beautiful, the space is large, and there are 3 (count ‘em, 3!!!!!) outdoor spaces.  We have a private balcony, a shared back patio where everyone BBQs, and a shared roof deck.  Seeing as we are currently in the season of sunbathing, grilling, and letting-the-fresh-air-in, I am beyond excited.

All that’s left now is for the other agent to run my credit check and for me to actually sign the lease.  I am hoping that will all happen in the next couple of days, and I will certainly keep you posted as to how that goes.

So, without further ado, here are the pics:

When you walk in, you're facing the living room and the sliding glass doors onto the balcony.

This photo doesnt do it much justice, but the bedroom is quite large.

Double closet in the bedroom. Big plus? Oh, yes.

Hall Closet next to the bathroom, which has a linen closet, marble floor, and heat lamp. Ahhh.

The kitchen is at the back of the living room. Yay for lots of cabinets and a dishwasher!

Looking out onto the balcony, from the living room. The balcony overlooks the patio/garden.

Shared patio. Bring on the BBQs!

Picture me up here, in my beach chair, with a gin & tonic, gazing at that skyline. Yes, please.

When I sat down to write this post, I x’d out all of my Criagslist, MLS, and random apartment listing tabs on my browser.  It was beyond therapeutic!  And now, I’m off to watch the rest of the NBA finals in peace, with a beer, knowing that I have a place to rest my head next month.  Ahhh.

Cheers!

Images:  (1) Wikipedia, (2) Google Maps, All others Rebecca for Happy City Living