About Jessica Tiare Bowen

Jessica Tiare Bowen

Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.


Latest Posts by Jessica Tiare Bowen

Head to New York’s East Village For A Whole Lotta Charm & Hot Tea

October 11, 2014 by  

Share:

L1010572

I love cute names and Podunk totally wins all the points for cute names and its adorable in person, too.  Located in the East Village of New York City, it’s not your traditional high tea you’d expect at a more uptown location.  Instead, you’re greeted with whimsy, character, and eclectic charm…all the elements you’d hope to find at a downtown tea house.

With mismatched chairs and tea pots, shelves stuffed with books and nicknacks, and the cheerful owner who greets her customers at their tables, it’s more than afternoon tea in NYC…it’s more like afternoon tea in your childhood home.  (Or maybe just the home we sometimes associate with the childhood of our imaginations, even if it didn’t actually exist quite like that, you know what I mean?)

The menu is just as eclectic as the decor, offering many variations to suit your palate.  I opted for the Blunt and Savory, which included mini-tea pies, savory filled scones, cheddar biscuits, focaccia and goats cheese, and of course tea.  My tea dates went with the sweeter option (think sweet scones and cakes) and gobbled them up just as fast.  The food definitely wins for being the tastiest of any tea joint I’ve tried in NYC…each piece really packed a punch of flavor, rather than the bland so-so scones we grow too accustomed to at hotels.  Oh, and another bonus?  Priced between $17 and $35 for the entire setting, it’s about half the price of Uptown afternoon teas, too.

Man, I love cute teas, don’t you?

Insider’s Tip: Despite being a restaurant, this place unfortunately has no bathroom (I didn’t even know that was legal?)  So go before you go.  Or walk down the street to Bareburger and use their WC, the hostess is super friendly.  Also, the teahouse is quite small, so making a rezzie will only work in your favor, promise.

L1010568 L1010570 L1010554 L1010555 L1010565 L1010558

What’s the cutest tea house you’ve ever been to?  Share below!

10 Fun Things To Explore in New York’s SoHo

September 29, 2014 by  

Share:

When we think of spending the day in New York City’s SoHo, the first (and perhaps only) activity that pops into our heads is SHOPPING!  And while, yes, it’s totally the truth that SoHo is filled to the brim with any and every store you could possibly imagine–all the way from the top designers to tiny boutiques with budding no-names–there’s more to SoHo than clothes.

Today, we’ve partnered with our friends at TripGo to take you around to all our favorite non-fashion forward stops in SoHo.  TripGo is a handy dandy app that connects your calendar with real-time transport suggestions, providing all your door-to-door options for easy breezy comparison.  Basically, a New Yorkers best friend.  Before heading out for the day, I plugged in my locations (below), plus my travel preferences (subway + walking), and was provided an optimized schedule for my day in SoHo.  First stop…breakfast!

1. Chobani

While a yogurt bar may sound about as exciting as a bag of rocks, let me promise you, this place is deliciously worthy of a visit every single time I’m in the neighborhood.  They have Sweet (toasted coconut + pineapple), Savory (cucumber + olive oil), and Seasonal creations that are hands-down out of this world!  Since it’s the start of fall, I opted for the seasonal special of the day, pumpkin + cranberry.

L1010616 L1010618

2. The Earth Room

What would you do if given a 3,600 square foot loft space in the prime real estate area of SoHo?  I bet 9.5 out of 10 of you sure wouldn’t say “fill it with dirt”…which is exactly what you’ll find at 141 Wooster Street.  This free exhibit has been open to the public since 1980…although there are no huge signs or fanfare letting you know the gallery exists.  A bit of a hidden gem (or if not gem, at least hidden!;-)  You go to the address, press 2B, and wait to be buzzed in.  Upon entering the building you’ll smell the room right away (I mean…280,000 pounds of dirt!)  Unfortunately, no photos are permitted, so you’ll just have to go and experience this one for yourself!

L1010623 L1010621

3. Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

A quick walk down the street will land you at another under-the-radar museum, featuring LGBTQ art and the artists who create it.  Also a free museum, you can walk right in and enjoy the art, or check out their calendar for a host of events…film screenings, opening receptions, talk back with artists…lots of greatness going on here.

L1010639 L1010640

4. The Mondrian SoHo

When you’ve reached a point in your day when you’re ready to kick those feet up, there’s no better place to go than the Mondrain Hotel in SoHo.  From its entrance, you’ll get a glimpse of just how cool this place is.  You can sit anywhere on the first floor, grabbing a cup of joe or glass of bubbly if you’re feeling festive.  My favorite place to go is on the second floor.  Across from the reception desk is a darling outdoor terrace with comfy lounge seating.  Perfect place to catch up on emails or call your mom;-)

L1010657 L1010658

5. Housing Works Bookstore

It’s no secret I love bookstores (especially this one, which is where we had our wedding reception!)  Housing Works sells used books, and the proceeds then go to help the local homeless with HIV/AIDS.  Besides being an awesome charity, the two-level store has a vintage feel, tons of seating, and a cafe in the back.  Oh, and TONS of special events here, guys!  We’re talking author readings, story time and sing-a-longs for kids, free films…you name it!

L1010669 L1010672 L1010671

6. Pearl River Mart

Besides being a place to get inexpensive, adorable gifts, let me tell you the real reason to visit Pearl River Mart.  Okay, you know that store Anthropologie (please tell me I’m not the only one obsessed with everything there?!  Well, everything BUT their price tags…crazy town!)  So here’s the insider’s scoop: a lot of the very same home goods that Anthro sells can be purchased right at Pearl River Mart for a FRACTION of the cost.  Seriously, this chihuahua nut bowl was $10 at Anthro, and $5.95 at PRM.

L1010646 L1010644

7. The Angelika Film Center

No secret to movie buffs, as this fabulous theater is where to go to see the artsier, more independent films that aren’t at your local AMC.

L1010699

8. La Esquina

When asked about the best Mexican food in NYC, this place is always first out of my mouth.  While the fancy rezzie-only restaurant is downstairs (call ahead, wayyyy ahead, people!), you can grab some of the basic goods at the faster-food joint upstairs.  Like these avocado veggie tacos.  Oh.Emm.GEE!!!

L1010679 L1010683

9. Street Art

And of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t draw your attention to the huge amounts of random street art you’ll be encountering along your SoHo adventure.  Here’s a few snaps of some that caught my eye.

L1010634 L1010654 L1010665 L1010667 L1010685

 

Roses in the Bronx at the Botanical Gardens

September 23, 2014 by  

Share:

While Manhattan may be the main hub many non-New Yorkers think of when they hear NYC, there’s a lot of greatness residing in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and yes, even Staten Island, too. To kick off this new series, I jumped on the D train and headed up to the Boogie Down Bronx to check out the New York Botanical Garden.  From the subway, it’s an 8 block walk (or you can jump on the bus if the weather is shoddy.)

L1010362

The garden is a living museum, chock full of so many exotic plants and blooms it’s difficult to believe you’re still in NYC…let alone in the middle of the Bronx!  An oasis of green standing at 250 acres, it provides the perfect getaway to wander aimlessly and soak in a ton of Mother Nature.  Do note though, that if just the idea of walking that many acres exhausts you, the garden does have a free tram to tote you about from collection to collection.

And of course, if you’re not the wandering type, the garden offers plenty of structured classes, events, and volunteer opportunities.  A few that piqued my interest are Jazz Age Evenings (filled with cocktails, concerts, and dance!), iPhone Nature Photography classes, and their annual Antique Garden Furniture Fair.  A full list of activities can be found on their calendar.

Here’s a few snaps from my most recent visit…ever the girly girl, I was quite partial to the rose garden.  No surprise there, right?

Insider Tip: Grounds admission is free all day on Wednesdays and from 9-10am on Saturdays.  However, Wednesdays is also when the school field trips are held (because, free!), so be prepared for lots of elated children running about!  Fresh air does wonders for city kids;-)

L1010364 L1010373 L1010375 L1010378 L1010382 L1010384 L1010386 L1010389 L1010398 L1010399 L1010409 L1010423

What’s your favorite Botanical Garden?  Share below!

 

 

Culture, Heritage & Historical Sites of Sarajevo Bosnia

September 19, 2014 by  

Share:

I recently returned from Sarajevo, Bosnia and while it wasn’t the first time I have been there, this time since I went with my hubby and in-laws, all of whom haven’t been back to their motherland in 14 years! Needless to say, this time around was less about visiting museums and historical sites and more about meeting and visiting extended family members and friends.  Who knew I was now related to about half of Sarajevo?!

L1010124

I’ve spoken before about trying to learn the language, and while I’d say my understanding rate is still pretty low, I have certainly mastered the art of hellos and goodbyes, which we’ll consider a small success!

A visit to a Bosnian household is quite a treat.  While in America the custom may be (at least in my house), “can I get you anything to drink?”, and when the person responds “no, thanks”, to just leave it at that, this absolutely doesn’t fly in Bosnian hoods (which are referred to as “mahalas”.)  Every time we’d visit a house, we were served a huge spread of traditional Bosnian coffee, juice, sparkling and still water, and sweet and savory treats.  They wouldn’t take no for an answer, I tell you!  And of course it would be considered rudest of rude not to accept.  End story: it’s a good thing we came back when we did or we would have been rolled onto the plane!

One of the highlights of the trip was a beautiful dinner arranged by the family where they took my love for the story “The Little Prince” and provided Bosnian versions of the book for all the guests and a Little Prince cake!  Completely, completely touched.

Seriously, Sarajevo hospitality just can’t be beat, and I feel really blessed to have such a wonderful culture of people to now call family.

unnamed-2 unnamed-1 L1010239

unnamed-8

 

L1010313  unnamed-3 unnamed-4 unnamed-9 unnamed-5 unnamed-7 unnamed-6 L1010350

 

 

Ramen at Noodle Cafe Zen in New York’s St. Mark’s Place

September 12, 2014 by  

Share:

L1010509

Far back in the day, I loved Ramen Noodles.  Not only did I eat them as they were intended them to be eaten, I’d also crunch the noodles up and eat them dry…add a bit of Prego and eat them ala Italiana…even soak them in butter and sprinkle with cinnamon for a delicious makeshift dessert.  Palate of a 5 year old, I tell you!  But I digress.

Up to this point in my life, I had never had REAL Ramen.  When I was in Japan I was scared to try it because it was really hard to communicate “vegetarian” effectively, and I didn’t want to risk ingesting bits of pork (shudder!).  So when I saw a veggie option on the menu of Noodle Cafe Zen last weekend, I gave it a go.

They have a great lunch special served with a salad, huge bowl of soup, and a side for about $10. It’s hard to beat that in New York City.

L1010510

 
WHERE: Noodle Cafe Zen
31 St. Marks Place 
New York, New York 

 

 

Finding All Things Green in the Big Apple

September 5, 2014 by  

Share:

 

As the dog days of summer approach, make the most out of these last bits of sunshine in some of Manhattan’s best green spaces that are perhaps not as well known (or crowded!) as our crown jewel, Central Park.

1. The smallest park in New York City is located in the heart of the Upper West Side.

IMG_2057-small-640x350

2. Head uptown to Manhattan’s tippy-top neighborhood of Inwood to Ft. Tryon Park (also home to the Cloisters, Heather Gardens, and a HUGE dog run!)

kveus7769s

3. Fancy a 25 foot waterfall in Midtown, anyone?

6-51st-street-and-3rd-avenue-greenacre-park-is-by-far-the-loudest-waterfall-in-the-series-prepare-to-get-splashed-if-you-sit-near-the-base-of-the-falls

4. The Highline is a downtown staple, where kids and adults alike can hardly resist a little water play.  And stargazing!  And movies projected on buildings!  And music, constantly!  Too much fun, I tell you.

563953191

5. A quiet place to sit with your book and organic juice can be found in Nolita’s Elizabeth Street Garden.

5874275663_38d1039f74_z

6. Battery Park is packed with playgrounds and plenty of picnic spots for you and your littles.

teardrop-park-nyc-2

7. The Museum of Modern Art allows visitors to use its sculpture gardens, sans the ticket price.  #artwin

L1010023-578x1024

8. Hudson River Park is the perfect place for water enthusiasts, because, free kayaking!

db-downtown-boathouse-nyc

9. An acre of green space, elevated.  A bit hidden, but every bit worth the visit, especially for its views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Picture 4

10. The East Village’s Creative Little Garden is a change of pace from Starbucks for freelancers, and also a lovely place to volunteer your time if flowers are your jam.

creative-little-garden-8-537x354

Do you have a favorite green space in Manhattan or in your city?  Share below!

 

 

What You’ll Find at the Brooklyn Flea Market

August 29, 2014 by  

Share:

 

L1010084

Recently during a move, I suggested we check out the Brooklyn Flea Market with the sole purpose of finding the perfect nightstand. (Brooklyn Flea without purpose = disaster.  I love EVERYTHING.)

There are 3 different locations: Fort Greene, Williamsburg, and Park Slope, and we chose Williamsburg because I also really wanted to drive through the Hasidic Jewish community while we were there.

Seriously: such a fun Sunday afternoon!  Along with vintage clothing, furniture and more tchotchkes than you’d ever know what to do with, there were also tons of food vendors there selling anything you could possibly be craving.  Hibiscus donuts?  Done!!!

L1010083 L1010089 L1010090 L1010093 L1010095 L1010096 L1010097 L1010094

In the end we did find the perfect nightstand: an old crate that I’ll turn on its side.  Of course the hubby was like #youpaidhowmuchforthatthing?!, but it was a fraction of what the furniture stores were charging. Plus: vintage!  And fun day Sunday!  Totes worth it:-)

L1010092 L1010099

Have you ever been on a mission to find the perfect {insert random object here}?  If so, where did you end up finding it?  Share below!

 

 

 

Cabaret On Broadway, as Good as Ever

August 14, 2014 by  

Share:

Cabaret01_605x329

“What good is sitting alone in your room? Come, hear the music play. Life is a cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret!”

An iconic invitation, how can you resist? Even with MY froggy vocals doing the inviting!

Over the years, I have heeded this call. This is my 3rd visit to a revival of “Cabaret” and I can assure you that like good wine, it improves with age. This is a vintage year.

“Cabaret” revolves around the residents of  Berlin during the heyday of Weimar Germany – after WWI, during the decade leading to WWII – a dizzying era, shocking even by today’s standards. Berliners lived like they would never see tomorrow; as if everyday were their last. Hedonism became a religion and personal pleasure the ultimate goal while the overt rumblings of an imminent war underscored (and ultimately dominated) not only the stages of dim nightclubs, but darkened the world stage.  Berlin’s vibrant, grimy, and divinely low cabaret scene was an experience that history will never repeat. Be prepared for some chilling scenes as hedonism gives way to Nazism and the theaters of war.

“Cabaret” as we now know it has morphed, evolved and been adapted in every genre.   Initially it was a novel, then a collection of Christopher Isherwood semi autobiographical stories titled “GoodBye to Berlin.”  These formed the basis for a successful Broadway drama titled “I am a Camera” by John Van Druten which was subsequently made into a 1955 film with the same title starring the late, great Julie Harris.  In 1969, it morphed into a truly original idea – the “concept” musical.  A slim narrative was present but this daring show was presented as a series of vignettes with more appropriately seedy, marginal characters added to the fray of expats living out their edgy, sometimes sordid lives in 1930s Berlin. But I must add that without Kurt Weill’s seminal musical titled “Three Penny Opera,” we would never have experienced “Cabaret.”  Indeed Kurt Weill’s widow, Lotte Lenya, played Fraulein Schneider in the original 1969 Broadway musical now simply titled “Cabaret.”

Cabaret_605x329

However new heights and cult status were achieved when a whirlwind of a superb musical score was expanded for the brilliant film version of “Cabaret” directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. He made the magnificent Liza Minelli as leading “lady” (I use this term loosely!) Sally Bowles a part of our vernacular – not to mention collecting an array of Oscars. This movie adaptation was so infectious, subsequent musical stage revivals had to alter the initial Kander and Ebb score to include songs from the movie musical, as well as enhance the role of the “Emcee” made so infamously delicious by Joel Grey in the film.  The 1988 Broadway revival brought back Joey Grey as the “Master of Ceremonies” in a now leading role.  Then the 1998 revival with the marvelous – and achingly missed Natasha Richardson – discovered and subsequently established Alan Cumming as a major force to contend with on stage, in film and on tv (not to mention one heck of a sense of humor on talk shows) while opening the door for some really talented actresses- from Brook Shields to Jennifer Jason Leigh- to relish the  part of the American expat, Sally Bowles,  in this five year run.

So history lesson over now and………. WILKOMMEN!

Don’t miss this fabulous show, with again, the AMAZING Alan Cummings in a landmark performance  as the” Emcee” of the krazy “Kit Kat Klub”  and Michelle Williams as the even kookier, wistful “Sally Bowles” leading this revival. But less you think it ends there, old chum, you will be overjoyed with an incredibly strong supporting cast of performers – the dynamic dancers alone are on a level of their own –   with Linda Emond as Fraulein Schneider and Danny Burstein (has he ever found his groove, one great part after the next) as Herr Schultz.  Such pathos to their respective performances.

The actual performance stage is tiny as the venue (the infamous Studio 54) has been totally reworked to create an authentic cabaret club.

It is practically an interactive show as in a theater set like this, familiarity is inevitable! The orchestra seating consists of small bistro tables seating four and dotted with a tiny red lamp. You can order a drink at the table prior to the show, all adding to the cabaret atmosphere.

14167541592_c3f30433a1_z

But these particular “Cabaret” cast members are in truth hardly the seedy, divinely decadent, poverty stricken nightclub performers they portray ….they are some of the best talent you will catch on Broadway this season…Alan Cumming alone has set the bar so high that even the acrobats from Pippin can’t get there! A must see show. “Cabaret” is at Studio 54 until January 2015 and I heard tell just the other day that Michelle Williams may extend her stay past August 31st, 2014.  But check to be sure.

Contributed by: Joanne Theodorou

 

 

 

Next Page »