A New York Minute: Things I learned while spending a month in New York City

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but it’s my last day here in New York City.

I’ve been here for a month already and as the saying goes, it definitely went by in a New York Minute. As mentioned in my NY skincare post, I’ll be coming back and forth here over the next year, so just like how July flew by, I’m sure August will just zoom along as well and before I know it, it’ll be September and I’ll be back to living my best Upper East Side life.

Anyways, the one thing I learned while “living” here is that it’s much more different than just visiting. Stark reality number one: It’s very expensive to be here. Sure, I would have loved to eat out at restaurants every meal and every day, but when an entrée costs a minimum of $15 USD (and that’s pretty reasonable actually), those costs add up quickly. So then there’s grocery shopping, which is also very expensive as everything is priced up more than it is in other American cities (I saw an single avocado go for $4.99 at a grocery store near me… I’m not even kidding). So, being the thrifty girl I am (I love to save a buck), I thought I would write a post on how to enjoy New York, without spending an arm and a leg to do so (plus some other fun tips I acquired while being here).

Walking down Madison Avenue in New York Sitting on the stairs of The Met in New York American Eskimo dog on the stairs of The Met

Take the subway or walk

Rule number one is always take the Metro. At only $2.75 a ride it’s a much more affordable option than taking an Uber or a cab. Best part is, the subway system can get you pretty much anywhere in a shorter amount of time than a car would (the traffic here is insane). So save those dollars for that over-priced mimosa and instead invest in a Metro card. Plus, you’ll be able to walk off all that New York pizza you’ve been consuming.

Another great option to is walk. I can’t even tell you how many steps I did in this past month alone. My favourite app to use for navigation is Citymapper and it tells you how long each method of transportation would take. For example, if it was a half-hour walk, I would usually just walk it since 30 minutes really doesn’t seem that far in New York. Here’s the thing about the city though, there are so many things to look at, that that half hour walk may feel like an eternity back home in Winnipeg, but it’ll go by in a breeze here in New York (plus, it saves me the need to go to the gym here as well).

Also, I highly recommend you bring a pair of comfortable shoes. We all have that image of wanting to be Carrie Bradshaw and walking around in a pair of stilettos, but I guarantee you, after five minutes you’ll be regretting that choice immediately.

SoulCycle at Hudson Yards

SoulCycle

Speaking of the gym, the only physical activity I took part in (aside from walking everywhere), was SoulCycle. A SoulCycle class in the city will set you back $37, plus the cost of shoes $3, so for $40 it is definitely an investment. I take spin classes back home in Winnipeg at some local studios, but none of them compare to SoulCycle. It might be the music, the enthusiasm of the instructors, the motivation, the chance to ride beside someone famous, or the thrill of just being there, but once you leave that studio a sweaty mess, I guarantee you, it will be worth it. Plus, it will make you feel better after drinking all those Aperol Spritz’s and New York pizza, because let’s be honest, who goes to New York and doesn’t eat to their heart’s content?

I recommend checking out the new Hudson Yards location since it’s brand-spanking new in one of the coolest new locations in the city. This studio has super cool lighting that syncs with the music, so it’s like a workout, a dance party, and a show all in one. Once you’re done your 45-minute class, hit the showers and use their Le Labo products and then take your time getting ready. After that, hit The Vessel and one of the restaurants at the Shops of Hudson Yards.

Hudson Yards

Officially opened in March 2019, you may have seen The Vessel all over your Instagram feeds. This shawarma-shaped installation that you can climb is one of the hottest tickets in the city (and it’s free!). Here’s the thing though, they open up tickets about two weeks in advance and unless you’re lucky, it will probably show it as sold out (although it’s free, you get a time slot and you can go in and climb it anytime within that slot). They also offer passes for $10 that guarantees you entry anytime of the day on the day of your choice.

Skip all that and just show up on site and go up to one of the kiosks which will give you a time that day (although it may be two or three hours ahead of when you’re there). If you really want to climb it, get tickets that way and then grab at bite and shop at the Shops of Hudson Yards (they have a Shake Shack in there, as well as Fuku, a fast-food chicken joint by the same guy who does Momofuku *highly recommend*), or walk the High Line, which is accessible right behind it and explore the Meatpacking District and Chelsea Market and Pier. Trust me, there’s more than enough things to do to kill a few hours.

The Vessel in New York at Hudson Yards The Vessel at Hudson Yards

Eating out

There are soooooo many places to eat in New York. In fact, any sort of food you could ever possibly want, you can have here. The options are seriously endless, but if you’re like me and want to save a buck or two, I recommend checking them out during happy hour. The drinks are just as expensive as the food, so hit up that local café or bar during their happy hour times for discounted meal and drink items.

If grocery shopping is more your thing, the best prices I have found was at Trader Joes. We took the subway every Sunday to the Trader Joe’s in Union Square (which also has the Trader Joes Wine Shop next door). Be warned though, unless you’re going right in the morning, expect the line up to pay to be at the door you walk in (although it does go quickly). It’s not the biggest grocery store, so although you may be tempted to just browse, be smart and make a list ahead of time because it’s very crowded in there.

Shopping

Did you really go to New York if you didn’t buy anything. Just like the food, you can get anything and everything here in New York.

I’m very much a shopper and over the years my mindset has been to invest in more quality pieces as opposed to fast-fashion items. It’s very tempting to walk down Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue and want to go into the stores and buy something really pretty which will put me back hundreds of dollars.

If you’re a Canadian, it’s more wise to purchase that designer item back home since the conversion for us sucks right now. Everything I bought this trip was on sale, and let me tell you, there is some great sales to be had.

Okay, so I might have bought a few dresses at Urban Outfitters, but here’s the thing… the selection at my local UO in Winnipeg is awful and the selection here is amazing since they have pretty much every item on their website. Yes, I could have ordered online, but again, some of my sizes were sold out.

My mentality when shopping here was “can I get this back home?” or “is this is an amazing deal?”. If I couldn’t get it in Canada, I got it.

Another amazing tip is to shop a sample sale. My go-to sample sale place is 260 Sample Sale, which is located at 260 Fifth Avenue. They rotate out the designers weekly, so keep an eye on their website and Instagram to see which designers they have the week you’re in town. For example, I got a La Perla corset for $66 USD, regular $1,300. Crazy, right?! I also got a pair of APL sneakers for $75, regular $250. If you’re going to do shopping, I highly recommend finding a sample sale since the deals are insane. Pro tip, the last few days of the sale they usually will discount the items more, but you don’t get the best selection/sizes.

Central Park in New York

Go to Central Park

Okay, so I’ll be honest, coming to New York I was mostly going to Central Park for Ziggy, but after having walked in the park many times, you need to add this to your list if you’re coming here.

Central Park is massive and every time I go to it I discover something new.  There’s always tons of people around, the energy is high, there’s music, dancing, people having picnics, people on row boats, places to eat, you name it. Seriously, every time I’m in there my energy level rises and it’s so nice to be surrounded by trees and nature in the middle of a concrete jungle.

I don’t recommend paying for the carriage rides, but you could download the Citi Bike app and rent a bike to discover the park if you don’t want to walk it. These are available everywhere in NYC and cost $3 for a half hour ride.  I didn’t personally use these when I was here (although I was tempted), but there’s also lots of bike lines on the main streets if you wish to use them to get to your destination above ground.

Live with Kelly and Ryan

Go see a show

Just like the food and shopping options, if entertainment is your thing, you can have your pick of just about anything here.

I’ve done Broadway on previous trips here to the city, but since tickets can be pretty expensive, take a look at entering their ticket lotteries. Most shows have online lotteries where you can enter to win discount tickets for amazing seats.  Although I didn’t win any (I entered for Hamilton and Mean Girls every day), it doesn’t hurt to enter anyways. Check out Broadway for Broke People for the list of shows with lotteries you can enter.

If you’re not really fussy on which show you want to see, head to one of the TKTS booths to get some discounted tickets for the night of.  Last year I saw Waitress for I think it was $80 and my seats were on the main level.

If you are looking for something more budget conscious, then get tickets to a taping of a talk show. I went to Live with Kelly and Ryan while I was here and it was such a cool experience seeing how they do the taping and seeing how different it all looks in real life. Best of all, taping tickets are free! You just have to plan ahead if you don’t want to wait in the standby line. Download the 1iota app (or check out their site) to see the tapings available for the dates you’re visiting.

Rooftop at Jimmy at the James in SoHo View of New York City from hotel rooftop bar in Brooklyn

It’s all about the views

Okay, so this one will set you back in both time and money, but I recommend heading to a rooftop bar to check out the views of the city.

Most of them are located in hotels, so there may be a bit of a wait to get up, but once you’re up there the views are seriously amazing. One thing I want to note though is that you’re also paying for that view. Drinks will typically set you back $19 for a cocktail, so maybe pregame ahead of time. For the best views, I recommend going to Williamsburg in Brooklyn and going to their hotel rooftop bars since it gives you a panoramic shot of Manhattan.

Jimmy at The James Hotel in SoHo is also a great choice to check out, but for the most impressive views, definitely head to Brooklyn.

I can really go on and on about my month in New York, but since I’ll be spending lots more time here, I’ll leave it at this.  There is seriously so much to see and do here (and eat!) that I highly recommend planning a trip and then making a solid itinerary.

Also, if you’ve been to NYC and have some tips for me, I would love to hear them! Please leave me a message in the comments below on what are some of your must haves to do in the city.

Have you been to New York?

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Lips that last: Avon 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo

Everyone knows the feeling.

You put on your favourite lipstick but then a few hours later it’s faded. Brands are definitely coming out with more lip products lately that have a lot more staying power than their older counterparts.  If you’re looking for something that will truly stay on and fade out nicely then you’re going to want to take a look at a lip stain.

Avon just came out with a new lip stain collection, which consists of six different shades and come housed in a dual-ended applicator. One end is used to line the lips and then the other is used to draw them in.  This lip stain packs some serious staying power and will promise all-day wear with no smudging, feathering or budging. The colour is semi-permanent and feels weightless on the lips.

Avon 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo

The brand sent me three of the 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo Line & Fill Duos to try out and to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan when it comes to the consistency of stains in general. I don’t find them to be that flattering on me, but I was more than happy to give them a try.  I got the shades Rebel Raspberry, Renegade Ruby, and Gnarly Nude, and I found the red-toned ones to be very true to colour, however, Gnarly Nude didn’t give me the nude vibe I usually look for and instead was more of a coral on me.

As for the applicators, I found them to be reminiscent of markers and didn’t really think there was a need for it to be dual-ended. I think the one end would have been just fine since it’s rather flat and rectangular, meaning that you can use it to trace your lips anyways.

Avon 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo Avon 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo

As for staying power, these definitely do stay on and if you’re looking to sport something for a short amount of time, I would skip these since they really do last on the lips. I also want to note that they are infused with sunflower seed oil to help hydrate the lips, so they are a comfortable wear as well.

These retail for C$11.99, regular C$15. Like I said, I’m not a fan of lip stains in general but if you like them then you can’t go wrong with these. I would stick to the darker and more red/pink shades over the lighter ones though since you’ll get the most bang for your buck that way.

Avon 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo swatched

Do you like lip stains?

Please note, products provided by PR. All opinions are my own.

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Taking a bite out of the Big Apple: Flying internationally with your dog

I’m lucky that I get to travel a lot.

I’ve been all over Canada and the U.S., as well as overseas to countries in Europe and Asia. One of my favourite places to visit is Vancouver and I’ve always wanted to bring my dog Ziggy, an American Eskimo, with me since it’s such a beautiful city that is surrounded by wildlife (and some of the freshest air I’ve ever smelled).

Last year I felt the same way when I went to New York City since there was so many dogs and the city in general just seems way more pet friendly than Winnipeg. I saw dogs everywhere, indoors and out, and with all the walking I just knew that Ziggy would love it.

Anyways, when I found out that my boyfriend was moving to NYC for a year I instantly got really excited to come visit him lots, and since I would be gone for weeks or a month at a time, I decided that Ziggy would come with.

Girl and American Eskimo dog in Times Square, NYC Girl and American Eskimo dog in Times Square New York City Balto statue in Central Park, NYC

Ziggy has never been on an airplane before and since he’s too big (29 lbs.) he would have to fly in the cargo hold, AKA underneath the airplane. I’m very attached to my dog, so naturally I had dog mom anxiety. Would he be okay? Would he be scared? Will he think I was deserting him? Will he be too hot?

Turns out I had nothing to worry about as he got here safe and sound and seems to just love being an urban dog in the Big Apple.

Now if you’re like me, I tend to research anything and everything. I look up places to eat, things to visit, I do my research on stuff I want to buy, etc. So naturally, I did a ton of research on flying with pets and what the process is like. When you’re travelling with your dog, it’s very important to be prepared prior to flying, and I mean like months prior. Since I was flying internationally from Canada to the United States, that means there is even more preparation involved.

First things first, when flying with a dog internationally (and even across land border – of which Ziggy has gone for car rides to the U.S.), it’s very important that you have their vet records and a list of their up-to-date vaccinations. When I took Zig for this annual check-up in April I made sure to get the vet to give me a printed and signed copy of this so if the border agent asked for it I could easily hand it over. I also had a signed document saying that he was healthy and safe to fly. This second document isn’t necessary, but it was good to have just in case.

American Eskimo dog in front of crate at Pet Valu American Eskimo dog shopping at Pet Value Petmate Travel kit and dog

Second, you’ll want to get all supplies early to get your dog accustomed to the method of how they will be getting there. For me, that included an airline-approved crate. When dog are flying in cargo hold they have to be in a hard kennel. The crate we got was the Essentials Plastic Carrier from Pet Valu, which is an airline-approved pet carrier available in a multitude of different sizes.

Although Ziggy could have fit the medium size, we ended up getting the large one (they have to be able to stand and turn around in it). He hasn’t been in a crate since he was a puppy (he’s 10 years old now), so it did take him some getting used to. I also figured having more room to spare would make him more comfortable.

The Essentials Plastic Carrier includes wing-nut fasteners for safety, an easy-to-use door catch, a moat in floor that catches liquid to keep pets dry, and has a water dish that is removable. To make Ziggy’s first plane ride even more comfortable, we picked up the Essentials Sherpa Crate Mat in grey to put inside the crate for maximum comfortability.

Finally, the last item we picked up for the crate was the Petmate Complete Airline Travel Kit, which includes basically everything you’ll need for travel. This kit includes a spill-resistant food and water cup, an absorbent kennel pad, two Live Animal stickers to put on the crate, a temporary pet ID tag, a shipping ID sticker, 12 zip ties, 12 one-and-a-quarter-inch bolts, five one-inch bolts, 12 washers, and 12 nuts. Petmate says that many airlines do not accept crates with plastic nuts/bolts or nuts that hold the top and bottom together, so this kit includes the metal ones as options (I didn’t have an issue about this with WestJet).

American Eskimo dog at Winnipeg airport American Eskimo dog in Winnipeg airport Dog inside Essentials plastic crate from Pet Value

Truthfully, I don’t think we actually needed the airline travel kit since WestJet supplies the Live Animal stickers and zip ties (plus we already had the water cup from the crate), but since this was his first time, I figured I would be safe rather than sorry.

Anyways, once we had all our supplies, I made it priority to get Ziggy to adapt to the kennel, which he was actually quite stubborn about. I left it in my living room with the door open and put his food dish near the crate and his treats inside so he could get used to it. I also put a sweaty sports bra (TMI?) in it so it would have my scent. By the time we got to travelling, although he wouldn’t go in by himself he didn’t mind being put in and didn’t cry or bark or anything when we closed the door, so that was a relief.

So when it came to the actual day of travelling you want to arrive at the airport at least two hours ahead of time (regardless if it’s international or domestic) to do paperwork. As mentioned, we flew WestJet, so there is a Live Animals form that you need to fill out, which they put on the crate. After all the paperwork is done you take the crate to the oversized baggage area and they scan the crate (same as you would do when you walk through security). Then you put him in, zip-tie the door shut and away he goes. You also have to zip-tie the top and bottom of the crate together as well just in case for whatever reason it comes apart.

We had some time to spare as we got to the airport super early so I let him run around in the Winnipeg airport animal relief area and gave him one of the Head-to-Tail Calming Supplements, also from Pet Valu. These calming supplements include essential vitamins, minerals, and superfoods in a wheat-free chew that pets can have every day. These help to keep pets calm without affecting their energy levels and can be used daily or as needed. They say that they start to work in 20 to 30 minutes and can last up to four hours. These are great for travel, training, grooming, anxiety, thunderstorms and fireworks, and more. I had given Ziggy these treats a couple times before the trip and definitely noticed that he was more calm, so I knew that these would be a good supplement to give him prior to the flight.

Once you board the plane, the WestJet flight attendant will actually find your seat and give you a slip of paper saying that your pet is on board so you don’t have anything to worry about.

Head to Tail Calming Supplements from Pet Value

Once we landed in Toronto we had to clear customs and then board our one-hour flight to NYC. There was some confusion at this point in our travels since I had called WestJet previously and asked if I could see him between flights and if I would have to get him and re-check him in. They said that his crate would just show up on the screen with my baggage and that I could visit him in a room with the luggage. That was not the case for either. Once we got off the flight we had to go through security again and then wait in a room for our bags to clear. After waiting for at least 20 minutes my boyfriend asked what was taking so long and the WestJet agent said that I would have to go back out to the WestJet counter and ask about the dog. After some confusion, we found Ziggy and he was smiling in his crate and looked great. All they wanted to do was just swab the crate again for security and luckily I got to take him outside. From there, it was business as usual and he went back in the crate and we zip-tied it back up and away he went.

Going through U.S. customs was a breeze and they didn’t ask to see any of his paperwork. I did have to claim that I had meat products on me (I had brought some of his dog food) and this wasn’t an issue at all (honestly, it was one of the smoothest customs experience I have ever had.. knock on wood!).

As was the case with the Winnipeg to Toronto flight, once we boarded the plane to NYC the WestJet agent came up to my seat and handed me the piece of paper saying he was on board and once we touched down in NYC he came out of the oversized baggage area.

Truthfully, I probably had way more anxiety than Ziggy did (he did so much better than I thought!), but overall the whole experience was great. It definitely helped having the right items to travel with and doing lots of research ahead of time.

I love having Ziggy here with me in New York since my boyfriend is working a lot and he’s here to keep me company. We’ve done so many walks and met so many dogs (in 2012 it was reported that there are over 600,000 dogs that live in NYC, that’s almost as many people that live in Winnipeg!), and overall the city is so dog friendly that it’s nice that I can take him practically anywhere.

Dog in crate in New York City Dog at Rockefeller Center in New York

If you’re planning on travelling with your dog and you have to put them in the cargo hold, it’s very important to do your research ahead of time and be prepared. WestJet will not fly animals in cargo parts of the year, and some breeds are not allowed at all in cargo (those with squishy faces since it makes it hard for them to breathe).

Huge thank you to Pet Valu for teaming up with me on this post and for supplying Ziggy with everything he could possibly need for this first plane ride. I’ve been shopping at Pet Valu ever since I got Zig so I knew that it was a one-stop shop for all the supplies I could ever want when it comes to airline travel.

Have you ever flown with your dog?

Please note, this is a sponsored post with Pet Valu. All opinions are my own.

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