Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of History: Why You Should Visit Fraunces Tavern in New York City


I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

I don’t know about you, but when I think of early American history, my thoughts naturally migrate to Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington DCーnever New York City. Recently, though, musicals like Broadway’s smash hit, Hamilton, and shows like AMC’s, Turn, have flipped the script on that. As it happens, New York City is a veritable cornucopia of American history, from momentum-changing events to the rise of some of our most enduring national figures.
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Finding Love in New York City on Valentine’s Day with the Army of Lovers



Those who know me know that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. In fact, I kind of despise it. And it’s not just because I don’t buy in to the carefully orchestrated marketing frenzy of overpriced gifts and experiences leading up to the holiday. It’s because something about glorifying coupledom has always rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, I can acknowledge the value of taking the time to appreciate your significant other, but that should really happen more than once a year, don’t you think? Justin and I have never been one of those couples who only hangs out with other couples. In fact, we have many friendships with individuals who happen to be unattached. And, surprise, they are no less spectacular because they haven’t “found the one”, “met their soulmate”, or “made the perfect match”.



Army of Lovers founder Erika Anderson holding up a paper valentine via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Army of Lovers founder Erika Anderson

Handmade paper valentine with Love Yourself for Army of Lovers via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

When we heard about the Army of Lovers and their cause, we knew we wanted to be a part of it. Six years ago, Erika Anderson was in a somewhat “undefined” relationship, which left her wondering if she’d be celebrating Valentine’s Day. She walked into a drugstore and was inundated with all the unsold Valentine’s Day paraphernalia that had been regaled to the clearance rack. Rather than lament her situation, Erika armed herself to the teeth…with Hello Kitty valentines. But instead of showering Mr. It’s Complicated with them, she filled them out with a simple “To: You, From: Me” message, and gave them out to strangers on her subway commute.

And the response was overwhelmingly positive.

She continued her Valentine’s Day crusade year after year, and her Army of Lovers continued to grow. Through press from outlets like BuzzFeed and organic growth from social media, people have reached out from other cities and countries to say “Hey, I want to be a part of this.” Based on the the simple notion that we all deserve to be loved whether we’re in a romantic relationship or not, the Army of Lovers has reclaimed Valentine’s Day for all of us.



Craft table with a bowl of heart-shaped stickers for Army of Lovers via Handmade paper valentine with Love Yourself for Army of Lovers via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Craft table with stickers and craft supplies for Army of Lovers via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Handmade paper valentine with Love Yourself for Army of Lovers via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

On a rainy Saturday night, we signed up to join Erika and her friends for a crafting party. In a quiet room at a Lower East Side community center, we sat at a table chock full of colored paper, stickers and stamps: the weapons employed by the Army of Lovers to create their handmade valentines. At our station we met Jim, a four-year veteran of the cause who enlisted after meeting Erika in an East Village bar. We swapped stories and colored markers as we scribbled messages like “You Are Special” and “You Are Loved” on cards that would eventually reach the New York City masses. I loved the idea of brightening someone’s commute, but if I’m being completely honest, I found the process of cutting out paper hearts and throwing a bunch of stickers on them pretty cathartic too.

New Yorkers have a pretty bad reputation and are often considered hostile and rude (yes, we’ve even topped lists). But meeting Erika and her Army of Lovers simply proves something I’ve always known: New Yorkers are pretty awesome.

Lynn holding up handmade paper valentines via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

So no matter where you are in the world today, I hope you’re one of the the lucky recipients of an Army of Lovers valentine. And if you’re not, know that we still think “You Are Purr-fect”.

You can learn more about Erika and her Army of Lovers on her website here.



Pair it with:

Dinner at The Butcher’s Daughter

Cozy interior with hanging fruit over the bar at Butcher's Daughter via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Angel Hair Carbonara with Spaghetti Squash from Butcher's Daughter via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Black Bean Veggie Burger and Potato Wedges at Butcher's Daughter via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The Butcher’s Daughter is somewhat of a misnomer, since the only things getting slaughtered there are vegetables. But the name isn’t the only thing that will cause you to scratch your head. The Butcher’s Daughter appears to offer vegetarian and vegan fare that even meat eaters want to devour. Throngs of them. Just pop by on a weekend morning to see the ridiculous brunch lines for yourself.

The bright yet cozy cafe has a Head Juiceologist on staff and Smashed Avocado Toast on the menu, so it’s easy to write off as a hipster joint. But the Executive Chef started his career cooking meat then developed a passion for using the best, freshest produce. As a result, The Butcher’s Daughter has a creative, robust menu offering items like Beet Deviled Eggs and Angel Hair Carbonara with no sacrifice in taste. As mentioned before, the wait times here can get pretty ridiculous. But if you happen to be coming from a crafting party late one evening, and it happens to be raining cats and dogs outside, you just might win the food lottery. Not only did we get a seat immediately, we had the communal table almost entirely to ourselves. So we did what any rational human being would: we ordered a spread big enough to fill most of it.

Location:
19 Kenmare St and 581 Hudson St

Hours:
Daily 8 am – 10 pm

– L.

The Art Gallery Crawl: A Secret Alternative To Art Museums In New York City


I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

We’ve made no bones about the fact that this blog keeps us pretty busy. But every once in a while someone cancels or plans fall through and we find ourselves with an opening in our otherwise overpacked schedule. So, what do we do when we have some time to kill? Well, we turn to a tried-and-true solution, one that requires no tricky reservations or extensive planning. And one that happens to be the best kept pseudo-secret in town: an art gallery crawl. Oh, and the cherry on top? It won’t cost you a dime.
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Strangers in the Night: An Evening at Tokyo Record Bar in New York City


When considering the fact that New York City is a bustling metropolis of millions, it’s ironic how often you hear it’s inhabitants express feelings of loneliness. Or alienation. Or a sense of hopeless disconnection from their fellow denizens. These are trite sentiments, certainly, but that doesn’t make them untrue. Even Mark Twain, when chronicling his time in the The City That Never Sleeps, wrote:

“A man walks his tedious miles through the same interminable street every day, elbowing his way through a buzzing multitude of men, yet never seeing a familiar face, and never seeing a strange one the second time.”

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Hitting All The Right Notes: The Tradition of Unsilent Night in New York City


I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

If there’s one thing to know about this blog and the people behind it, it’s that Justin and I love all facets of New York City. That means loving Jean Georges and Halal Guys in equal measure. Fifth Avenue and the Lower East Side. The Met and Mmuseumm. And when it comes to the holidays, we love over-the-top displays as well as understated celebrations. One of the more quirky and lesser known holiday traditions we enjoy in New York City is that of Unsilent Night.

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The Tradition of the Non-Traditional: Christmas Day Dim Sum in New York City



In case our posts about Christmas Lights and Holiday Windows didn’t give it away, we’re pretty big fans of the holiday season. And another thing we’re pretty big fans of? Food. Christmas is fast approaching and the majority of businesses will be shuttered to observe the day’s celebration, food establishments included. But one of the many things we love about New York City is that it’s incredibly diverse. A solid quarter of it’s estimated 8.6 million population is made up of non-Christians–they include Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists, and many, many others. So, on Christmas Day, where do these other New Yorkers congregate for a meal? Turns out, there’s a tradition for that!

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Let’s Get Lit: Christmas Lights Tour with A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours



Our love of the holidays is no secret. From Halloween through New Year’s Eve, we’re down with anything this incredible city can throw at us. And New York City? Well, FUHGETTABOUDIT! It’ll throw a little bit of everything at you, from the conventional to the kitchen sink. So when our friends over at A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours recently invited us to check out their Christmas Lights Tour, we jumped at the chance. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a holiday staple in our household, we had to do it for the Griswolds.

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How Sweet It Is: The Best Candy Shops in New York City



There are three candy holidays, or I should say Holy Days,  in the United States: Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. I remember as a child, when of one of these observed Holy Days approached, my father would open a portal into another world. No matter where we lived at the time, he would take me to some secretive little shop, inconspicuously tucked away off the beaten path. These shops were like walking into a time capsule, what with their loads of obscure candies, chocolates, and myriad other snacks, stacked floor to ceiling. Whether in open barrels or giant bags and boxes, I found myself surrounded by untold delights.

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To Infinity and Beyond: Yayoi Kusama’s Festival of Life at David Zwirner Gallery in New York City



Why on earth would a nocturnal creature such as myself wake up at an uncivilized hour on a frigidly cold Saturday morning in November just to stand on line for nearly two hours–and not just any line but a discouragingly gargantuan queue that appeared to stretch into infinity? A fair question. And the answer is quite simple: when you have the opportunity to see recent works from an artist of Yayoi Kusama’s caliber, whose contributions have been essential to some of the most important artistic movements of the 20th Century, you dig deep. You pull on your big boy pants and wrap yourself in a puffer jacket. You fill a thermos with strong coffee. And you get moving.

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Breaking Down Walls: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors by Ai Weiwei


I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

I grew up in Malaysia then moved to the United States as a young adult. Justin trailed along while his father’s highly transient career took him all over the country in his youth. So when it came time to make our own home, we fell into the normal trappings–we bought a house in a nice neighborhood in a state where it was sunny 299 days per year. But we found ourselves making regular trips to New York City that grew longer and more frequent, and soon we realized maybe it was more of a home to us than our house was. For us, home has never been about geography. It’s always been a feeling. A longing when you leave, and a pull to return.

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