About 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
Living in New York City, it may come as a shock to you that I have a serious thing for small towns. The barista at the (one) local coffee shop that knows your name and order by heart, gallery openings and book signings that the entire community comes out to support, and antique shops that still have antique prices…yep. These are definitely some of my favorite things, and what’s better yet is they can all be found 2 hours away from New York in the town of Hawley, Pennsylvania.
Where To Stay
A bit of trivia for you New Yorkers: you know Bohlin Cywinski Jackson? (Crickets, crickets.) Okay, you know the guy who designed the awesome Apple store on 5th Avenue that looks like a glass cube? (Ding, ding, ding!!!) Well, that same guy designed Ledges Hotel, which is apparently THE place to stay in Hawley. I could ramble on about the hospitality (phenomenal), the on-site restaurant (delicious), the natural beauty and serenity that overpowers you as you look out onto the picturesque waterfalls cascading into the river (unparalleled)…OR I could let the photos speak for themselves.
Seriously guys, even if you go to Hawley and don’t even leave the hotel for 2 days straight, you’re in for a treat. A serene one, at that. The Settlers Inn is the Ledges more traditional sister hotel just a few minutes drive away, which is also gorgeous. We went there for breakfast and ate about a million of their homemade fresh butter and mocha scones. They taste even better than they look, if that’s possible!
What To Do
Shopping + Entertainment
Right next to the Ledges is an old mill that’s been converted into a lovely entertainment and shopping complex, the Hawley Silk Mill. They have a gym and yoga studio (which, as a guest of the hotel, you can take full advantage of), the delicious Mill Market featuring locally sourced products, food, and craft beer, tons of local artwork presented in their gallery and co-opped artist boutiques, a spa, and even an intimate performance space which hosts music, theater, poetry, lectures, and workshops year round. Check out their schedule of events here.
Relax + Recharge
If relaxing with a book is more your speed, the Cocoon Coffee House is where you want to be. (And yes, there’s free Wi-fi!) Located right outside the Silk Mill, this quaint shop serves as coffee shop, lending library, and gallery space to local Hawley artists. It’s perfect amounts of both cozy and cheerful, the kind of place we New Yorkers wish we had on every corner!
The art is for sale, and is really, really good. We got swept away by a nature painting that is now hanging in our NYC bedroom!
Any antique/thrift lovers? Thrilled to say that Hawley is home to one of the best antique shops I’ve ever had the pleasure to walk into, the Hawley Antique Exchange. (With the best prices, too!) I could have spent days in this place…just look at all these goodies!
There’s several other antique shops too, notably Timely Treasures and Miss Elly’s Antiques & Such.
The Glass Wine. Bar. Kitchen, located on site at the Ledges Hotel, is the place to be, any night of the week. We went on a Friday to enjoy their live entertainment, which was only surpassed by the delicious small plates and spectacular service with a smile that you just can’t find in NYC. I was also very impressed with their under $20 a bottle wine list, and of course, that stellar view of the frozen falls!
Victoria Milo is a Long Island native currently working in advertising but her natural passion lies in the arts where she expresses “individuality and creative beauty” with oils on a canvas. Although she is a remarkable artist, she says she never really considered herself an artist until March 1st, when her painting collection titled The Places We Ignore was actually hung up on display for others to see.
The Places We Ignore is completely inspired by the New York City subway. Most of us ride the subway trains daily but we may not be in tune with the natural beauty of the dirty and gritty train cars or the signs that tells us where to transfer to the next train. We never notice the way the train lights reflect on the yellowing tiles or the reflection of the impatient crowd on the speeding train. Victoria says that these details and the small things that we may not pay attention to are what mostly inspire her.
The collection is made up of scenes and pictures of multiple places in the subway system. All the paintings seem so intricate and well thought out but Victoria says they were all naturally chosen. She starts out by snapping a couple of pictures and then, she goes with the flow of her paintbrush. She likes to “enjoy the actual randomness of things” so most of the ideas may not have executed themselves the way she planned them.
You can see that The Places We Ignore maintains a constant theme but each piece of the collection is unique. I asked Victoria about her creative process and she mentioned that she begins with a central theme and looks for that theme in everyday moments. Although everyday moments may seem mundane, she uses her oils and paint to evolve these ideas into something new: bringing the life back into the everyday moments.
Victoria’s painting collection (some of which is shown here) is now on display at The Galleries at 153 East 53rd Street until April 30th. Her collection is there to inspire us all to dream of all the possibilities and dream of them through the everyday moments and places we ignore. Victoria ended her conversation with me by encouraging me to be a dreamer: “You know a lot of them won’t be realistic but why not have fun with it? If I didn’t dream, I wouldn’t have all of this.” – Victoria Milo
What piece of art has inspired you to dream lately? Share below!
Contributed by Denise Pina
We’re bringing a very important topic to the table today, folks: Pizza! The pizza slice is perhaps one of the most iconic NYC foods, and with a pizzeria (or three!) on practically every corner, it’s tough to narrow down from the good to the great.
Frankly, I’m not picky when it comes to pizza. In fact, when posed with the question “If you were on death row, what would be your last meal request?”, it’s undoubtably always going to be pizza. I’ve rarely met a slice I don’t like (and in that case, it’s probably because it’s been sitting out too long.) SO, I turned to the experts: New Yorkers themselves! Here’s what they had to say via Twitter:
Picking your favorite pizza is like picking your favorite child: Everyone has one, but no one wants to tell. I’m always on the search for a great NY slice that only locals know about. John’s of Elmhurst, Pizzeria Classica in Glendale are great ones, but my latest obsession is Mama Carmela’s in Astoria. It’s in a totally impractical spot but stays in business because of an incredible loyal, local following. Trying the slice, I loved the clean, sweet sauce and the cheese which gave me one of those burn bubbles on the roof of my mouth. It reminded me of the pizza of my childhood. – Jeff @JeffreyTastes + I Want More Food
Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn for the thin style brick oven pizza. Worth traveling over to. Love the slightly charred bottom and the history behind the place. -Phil @RegularGuyNYC + The Regular Guy NYC
DiFaras #nycpizza best ever. Thin crunchy crust, perfect sauce, Parma and fresh basil, beautiful EVVO. Flavor burst 9.5! -Steve @ssinkoff
Margarita from Keste. The quintessential pizza done perfectly. Proof of the power of simplicity and great ingredients. -Paul @TheCityLane
After stumbling upon this rustic yet chic, chandelier clad pizza joint, Forcella Eatery, we were overjoyed by the menu. Pizza Sandwiches? WHAT. Signature Pizzas? Yes Please. Create Your Own Pie? PERF. This Naples-style brick oven pizza was crunchy, delicious and included an array of toppings to complete the perfect personal pie. Our go-to favorite, the Porta Capuana, has burrata, arugula, prosciutoo, and pecorino, need I say more? Oh and they have gluten free options! -Ricki + Sophia @chow_down_nyc
Motorino–best balance of downtown cool and purist pies! -@PieNearby
Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street is still my favorite. -@TheGirlinNYC
Can’t deny that it’s 2 Bros. Maybe I’m just broke, but it’s only $1 a slice and pretty damn delicious. Def beats other $1 ‘za. -Shanna @BananaintheCity
My choice will be My Pie Pizzeria in Midtown East. I might be slightly obsessed with them. Sooo delish! -@FacelessNYer
Luzzo’s!! -Amanda @ManhattanTwist
Real #nycpizza at Empire Pizza…greasy, cheesy, crispy- that’s what I’m talking about! -Amelia @amelianycmadrid
Still having trouble deciding where to grab your next slice? In our quest for the best pizzeria, we came across 2 must-have apps for any NYC pizza lover that will narrow it down even more: Cheazza, which tells you where to find all the dollar slices in the city, and Real Pizza of New York, an app that gives the user the best pizza recommendations in the city, broken up by neighborhood. Buon appetitio my friends!
Thursday night in New York City and you want to know where all the cool kids are? Head downtown to Houston Street, and chances are you’ll hear them before you see them.
Houston Hall is, by Manhattan standards, a ginormous beer hall decked out like a cafeteria from the 1920’s: long communal tables, rustic decor, dim lighting…this vintage vibe is only offset by the huge screens/TVs playing the season’s it sport, and the top 40’s music playing soundtrack to the game. The Choice A of spots to go to hang with old friends, meet new ones, all while having conversation be completely optional, which, let’s be honest, is kinnndddaa nice after a long week in the office.
Now, I realize most people go to beer gardens for, well, the beer. And considering they brew at Greenpoint Beer Works, that’s all fine and good. But you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you go and didn’t order the food…lots of it.
The portions are generous, the picks go splendidly with the beer garden theme, and, get this, it’s a vegetarian’s dream. Who would have thought?! All the dishes featured below are veggie friendly and crazy good. If I lived in the hood I’d be ordering takeout from this place all the time, it’s that kinda good.
I know what you’re thinking: so many options, right?! Life decisions can be hard, my friends. If you need a little guidance, I’d go with the fried pickles, fried macaroni and cheese balls, and pretzel with warm cheese. Ya know, cause 2/3′s of the options with the word “fried” in it isn’t bad. Plus, they’re insanely good…between my dinner date and I proudly finished every last morsel of those three dishes.
Without any further adieu, let the food porn begin…
WHERE: Houston Hall 222 West Houston Street New York, New York
I am offering an admittedly highly subjective list for my “Filmed in the Big Apple Top Ten Movie List” from the female pov, and the biased opinions of a born and bred New Yorker – we’re all like that i.e. overly opinionated! I am opting for the gentler, kinder movie NYC tempered by the double “X” factor. Yes, there are a few mean streets here but there’s also the yellow brick road.
The only criteria for my selections is that NYC work as great backdrop and setting, yet assumes such importance that our great city becomes an essential character in the film.
By the way, the last time I did a “Top 10” movie list, I had 117 selections. So make certain your Netflix account is in good standing, you’re gonna need it! Enjoy my self indulgent anecdotal commentary – my personal version of pop up video.
Who doesn’t love a fairy tale? Starring the gossamer Amy Adams, and a gorgeous Patrick Dempsey, this film solidified her cinematic future. A star was born. Adored the charming romp thru the eastern side of Central Park, especially literary walk and Belvedere Terrace for the production number “How Do You Know?” But all the NYC backdrops, especially the Times Square neon and billboards, are essential to this fabulous fluff of a flick. I remember when they were in NYC filming this feather of a story – it was the dead of winter! Brrrrrr.
9. “REAR WINDOW”
Directed by the great mystery movie maker, Alfred Hitchcock. Starring the iconic Jimmy Stewart and that regally beautiful blonde, Grace Kelly. This is a terrific thriller and debunks the myth that NYC’s citizens don’t know their neighbors….and if they don’t, this movie proves that they SHOULD! The view from the rear window in this film is EXACTLY like the one I have from my home. Many Manhattan apt. dwellers who live on the side streets can make the same statement. You never know what you’re gonna witness outside your window, be warned.
8. “THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT”
With the legendary funny man, Peter Sellers, and the always interesting Angela Lansbury. But the real standouts are the two clever, precocious 12 year old private school BFFs on that crucial cusp of adolescence. Girl pals who make the streets and avenues of NYC their personal back yard. Great views of NYC landmarks such as the UN and my beloved East River Walk (which I wrote about previously in UYC) and of everyday Manhattan neighborhoods. Who says you can’t raise kids safely in a big city? Growing up in a city like New York is an education in itself. A must see, bittersweet adventurous tale of that necessary, life altering transition from innocence to experience.
7. “HANNAH AND HER SISTERS”
Woody Allen is to NYC as Charles Dickens is to London … inseparable. Set throughout Manhattan – the Carlyle, the Metropolitan Opera House, uptown, the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side, CBGB’s, the Broadway Theater District, Pageant Bar & Grill, the Chrysler Building…. he covers it all. But the real star of the film, especially to New York’s apartment dwellers, became the sprawling, fabulous, seemingly endless apartment where several keys scenes are played out.
We all drooled over the dining room (who in NYC has a dining room?) the 12 foot ceilings with crown molding, endless book shelves, a grand piano in the enormous living room, a center hallway – the sheer good taste of it all…the green eyed monster came out in all of us. Allegedly this was Mia Farrow’s real apartment (she plays Hannah) left to her by her legendary actress mother, Maureen O’Sullivan, who actually plays her Mother in this film.
I so miss the legendary Tower Records on Broadway and 68th Street, a logical neighbor for Lincoln Center.( Woody spots one of the sisters in Tower browsing their incredible jazz selection.) A great place to browse, listen, meet up – as a music major, I spent HOURS there. My friends met their future spouses there (as does Woody in this film). A legendary selection of music.
6. “SEX AND THE CITY”
Our favorite gal pals continue their cable tv love affair (not to mention their love lives) with NYC on the silver screen. The main 42nd Street branch of the NYPL will NEVER be the same. (I spent many a weekend in their 3rd Floor main reading room while in Graduate School) The grand entrance, flanked by those majestic lions (aptly named “Patience and Fortitude”) and grand marble staircase soured into a sad exit for our beloved Carrie, faster the a New York minute.
And again, we salivated over SJP’s and Big’s Upper Fifth Avenue apartment, not to mention Charlotte’s Park Avenue digs and Miranda’s Brooklyn brownstone. These glam gals defined NYC for an entire generation. I ran into their tv shoots several times during the years they were filming their show in and about NYC. Always a thrill to see these women “on the job.”
5. “THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR”
Such an intelligent, involving, intriguing plot – the perfect metaphor for NYC itself. Robert Redford plays a CIA low level think tank “brain” (code name: condor) who analyzes data and ideas for possible conspiracy theories. (Remember, this was pre 9/11 – where the criticism became “a failure of imagination”…how prescient). Sure enough, he comes too close to the truth and the story takes off. You will see our government in a totally different light after this exciting, absorbing film.
I remember when they were filming on the streets of Manhattan, very exciting seeing Redford literally on the run! The Lexington Avenue “Luncheonette” and East 77th St. elegant townhouse which served as this film’s catalyst, still stand, as well as the entire Upper West side Broadway run where Redford’s character literally ran for his life. The Times Square recruiting station also still stands.
Gotta mention the legendary Max Von Sydow as a chilling “hit man” and a smart Faye Dunaway as an initially unwilling accomplice. Love a good conspiracy theory!
4. “WHEN HARRY MET SALLY”
NYC couldn’t be more beautiful in the Fall, and this film takes total advantage of this season. If you have not seen this film – which centers around that eternal question “Can men and women be friends without sex getting in the way?” then run, don’t walk to see an adorable Meg Ryan and a witty, smarty pants Billy Crystal. You have all seen the famous scene at Katz’s deli i.e. “I’ll have what she’s having.” This “hit the nail on the head” love story travels to Giant’s Stadium, the Puck Building, the Washington Square Arch down in the heart of Greenwich Village, Central Park’s ideal ladies luncheon locale i.e. the Central Park Boat House….each scene contributes to this insightful love story that could only happen in NYC.
Only a New Yorker such as John Patrick Shanley (born in the Bronx) could write such an off center, off beat love story. With lines like “Snap out of it!” and “Ma, I love him awful”… well, reality bites back! Cher scored her Oscar in this film, but it was her NY spot on accent, highlighted by the Brooklyn Heights streets and glorious promenade that captured out hearts. The scenes both outside and inside the glorious red velvet Metropolitan Opera House take your breath away. Every other time I pass the infamous Lincoln Center Fountain, I spot someone posing like Cher in “Moonstruck” for a selfie. I urge you all to one day go inside this major opera house, they offer a fab back stage tour.
2. “ANNIE HALL”
Another Woody Allen masterpiece. A work of epic proportion and way ahead of itself in the relationship area. Both Woody and Diane Keaton (her quirky, cool look launched a fashion trend) have never been better. You laugh, you cry, you relate. As expected, Woody’s love affair with NY continues, he takes us thru Coney Island in Brooklyn, his beloved Beekman Movie Theater on the Upper East Side, the beautifully filmed streets of New York invite you for a admirable stroll where everything is possible.
And if you can’t get it here….well, you don’t need it! Our beloved “Thalia” movie theater (the ultimate art house for film buffs and due to its late night/early morning programming, the perfect symbol of the city that never sleeps) is lovingly acknowledged in a memorable scene. It closed way back when. I cut my young cinematic teeth there on those deep, existential Ingmar Bergman stoic stories and Fellini double headers. Those were the days.
By: Joanne Theodorou
Besides my Metrocard, the only other thing I never ever leave home without is my trusty iPhone. Any other New Yorkers out there relate? I’ve only had this amazing piece of technology for about a year, and it’s insane to think how I navigated my way around the city before! (Blackberry, you’ll always have a place in my heart.) Here are the top 5 NYC-centric apps that are, quite simply, priceless.
Heading home from a long day at work? Sure, you could wait until arriving home to log onto the desktop and place an order for your go-to Thai…OR, you could open up this handy dandy app on your phone, order and pay for it en route, and have it delivered by the time you walk in your building. Amazing? I think yes.
In pre-iPhone days, I would email myself directions from HopStop, like, all the time. Now life on public transportation just got a million times easier, cause you can search for door to door directions virtually anywhere! Or if you’re feeling super lazy, you can even get an estimate on how much cab fare would be.
Speaking of cab fare…you know those times right around cab shift-change time when there are absolutely NO cabs in all of Manhattan? And of course it’s thunder storming like crazy? That, my friends, is where Uber comes in. The app will send a black car (or SUV if you have a big pickup) directly to where you are, charge your credit card (tip included!), and drop you off at your destination. Granted, it’s a bit more pricey than yellow cabs, but during a blizzard, it just can’t be beat.
Okay, we know New Yorkers like to multitask. So how about getting all your grocery shopping done while you’re bored to tears in a meeting? (Not like I have ever, ever done this…) You can order anything your little heart desires, and have it delivered as early as the next day. Bonus: once you’re on their mailing list, they frequently send out emails announcing codes for free delivery, which means you really don’t end up spending anymore than you would at Whole Foods…and we all know how crazy THAT line is.
Want a quick way to tell all your non-New York family and friends that you love and miss them? Instapost takes your Instagram or camera phone photos, turns them into a postcard, allows you to enter text on the back, and will mail it off to the recipient the very same day! And the best part is, this sweet surprise only costs $2.49, postage included!
I am constantly looking for inspiration in New York City. Some days, the little things that make our life go round inspire me. Others days, I need a little more than the regular everyday things.
Pawel Althemer’s The Neighbors Exhibit at the New Museum has given me the inspiration to do exactly what I love to do. The Neighbors exhibit was created with the idea that all artists are everyday men and that anyone can create a work of art, all we have to do is dig deeper. In fact, the third floor is dedicated to the audience.
Anyone can come in and incorporate his or her own piece of art to the exhibit. I drew an orange sun in the middle of the floor because I was feeling bright that day. When I spoke to Pawel, he explained to me that he himself is still a student. He says his mentor taught him that we are all students; the primary difference between us is experience but we are all learning while we teach and practice our art. The exhibit is open until April 13th and on that day, the third floor will be broken down and pieces of the artwork will be given to the people, by the people.
Off Broadway Shows
Off Broadway shows are not only easy on your pockets, but they are rich with galvanization. “The Year I Was Gifted” by Monica Bauer at the Stage Left studio is a play about finding your way and your place in the world. The writing is funny and filled with rich style and relatable characters.
This one-woman-show is well executed and well developed with references to great literature. I was inspired to read a few classics and most of all, to find my tribe in this world. I totally recommend this show to all people looking to find their way through this thing we call life. The show is running every Friday now through April 2nd – its the perfect Friday night activity.
The Women of Social Justice
The women of the Xi Alpha Chapter of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority Inc. have been celebrating woman’s history month by raising awareness and inspiring our communities to advocate for women’s rights.
The International Woman’s Day Rally held on March 8th brought together women from all over NYC to STAND UP for ALL Women and women’s equality. The Xi Alpha Chapter will bring the month to a close with a panel discussion on Thursday March 27th at Columbia University’s Barnard College. Join this panel of inspirational women conversing about Women’s Empowerment: A Celebration of Strength and Struggle. Feel free to RSVP with Habiba Braimah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been converted to a Yogi. Yoga to the People is dedicated to bringing Yoga to all of us with multiple studios around the city at ridiculously affordable prices ($5 a class, anyone?) The staff is super friendly and welcoming, too.
Inspire yourself through the fire sequence. The challenge of each pose – to try and fail and try again – can only prove to you how strong and determined you truly are. I’ve been pushing myself 2 to 3 times per week and I’ve learned good and bad things about myself. Most importantly, I’ve realized that there is no real inspiration other than the one that lies in me.
It’s OK To Talk To Strangers
NYC is home to diverse, interesting, and unique people. You may be sitting next to the city’s best underground designer and you don’t even know it. I challenge you to have a conversation with a complete stranger. A simple smile and an act of kindness can brighten up that person’s day, including yours as well. You may come across a few people who think you’re weird but that’s OK, keep trying until you find some new inspiration!
What has inspired you this week?
Contributed by Denise Pina
With the trees staying bare just a little bit longer this year, I was extra excited to see blue skies out in full force in Central Park.
“Blue skies?!” you say. ”But Jess, I haven’t seen anything but gray, gray, gray since Halloween!”
(Hmm…I can’t argue there…)
But no, the blue skies I’m referring to are actually aluminum clouds, courtesy of the artist Olaf Breuning, who “invites us to experience the stage-like quality of a New York City street with a new sense of wonder and possibility”. I have to say, of all the outdoor installations I’ve seen at this particular location, this is by far my favorite.
Blue skies, smiling at me. Nothing but blue skies, do I see. ~Irving Berlin
Sitting at the South East corner of Central Park (circa 60th and 5th Avenue), this cheerful exhibit is on display until August 24th, and I have no doubt it will be even more lovely with Central Park blooms in the background.
What piece of art has brought a smile to your face as of late? Share below!