Another NYC Guide For Tight Budgets

I'm in the middle of planning our city visit this weekend and that planning involves what we can do without spending much money.  We are usually in the Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea area when we're in town and while New York can be expensive, your stay doesn't have to be.  This post is going to be FULL of links to older posts because I tend to write about our stays a lot. 

We sleep on my parents couch so we don't pay for hotels but there are a bazillion options of where to stay that's affordable. You don't even have to stay Manhattan.  Also Air BnB is pretty popular.  Many parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Jersey City are just quick subway/ferry ride away from Midtown Manhattan. 

PhotoLet's talk about ART!  If you love art, there is a lot of it you can take in for free.  You don't have to stand on long lines and pay a ridiculous fee.  Art Galleries are FREE!  It only cost money if you're a big spender and looking to buy some art.  

The Chelsea neighborhood is full of galleries.  Our go to spot is located at 529 West 20th Street between 10th & 11th Avenue.  It is not only the home to the Jonathan Levine Gallery (one of my favorites) but a bunch more galleries all located in this big industrial building.  Almost every floor from top to bottom has one or two galleries to check out.  We usually take the elevator to the top floor and work our way down.  It's also located near Chelsea Piers & Chelsea Market. 

We hardly take the subway (which is $2.75 a ride now, F that!).  We walk along the Westside Highway which is almost entirely a riverfront park on the Hudson. We walk south to Chelsea or the West Village, it's a nice alternative to very popular Highline which is just one avenue east.  The Highline is nice if you go early in the morning.  Most museums either have a free day or free admission after certain hours. I found a nice guide that lists a bunch.

What about food?  

There are SOOOOO many restaurants in the city, don't bother with the big chains you can go to back home.   We have our usual restaurants we dine at in Hell's Kitchen like Gotham Market West, Jing (Asian Fusion), Tulcingo del Valle (Mexican), Island Burgers & Shakes, Georgio's Country Grill, Hell's Chicken(Korean), Bambolio on Bleecker Street in the West Village, and more. Usually when we dine out, dinner is under $35, it helps when you don't drink alcohol I guess.

image from pulpsushi.typepad.com

ONE SLICE of cake from Amy's Bread is big enough for two people.  That is a $2.50 dessert per person!  They have three locations in Hell's Kitchen, West Village, and Chelsea Market.  I always pay them a visit. 

What's more New York than grabbing a slice of Pizza?  I grew up on slices from a bunch of different pizza places, some really good and some really missing the mark.   If you are really strapped for cash, 2 Bros Pizza have $1 slices! And you know what? They're not bad!

You know what else is awesome? STREET FOOD! I'm not talking about the fancy schmancy food trucks. I mean the silver, no-name food stands.  There is a guy on the corner of 9th Avenue and 43rd Street with a fruit stand and it is the cheapest produce you'll find anywhere and they're fresh fruit too! 

When I was working in the city, I skipped Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts in the morning and I got my coffee from a guy on the corner of 55th & 3rd Avenue. A large coffee for $1.25 and it is the best coffee I ever purchased.  I still miss that coffee. 

Photo (2)Yes, there was one morning I actually purchase TWO large cups of coffee from him. I was feeling miserable that morning lol!

You'll find these little coffee carts every few blocks most weekday mornings.  They would also have donuts, rolls, and bagels you could grab. If they were "fancy", maybe even make an egg sandwich.  You don't need to spend a ton on breakfast when you can get a coffee and bowtie for $3.00.

In the warmer weather, you may happen upon a random Street Festival with the smell of sausage and peppers and fried dough in the air.  Don't fight it, give in to the street food greasiness!

There is sooooooo much more I can talk about like Governors Island, Lower East Side, and so much more.  You can always shoot me a question in the comment on where to do, where to eat, what to do and I'll be happy to share some alternative recommendations! :) 


Buffer Helped Increase My Etsy Views

Whoa! Okay, that title is quite a statement and giving Buffer some props but stay with me.  In addition to reworking the SEO for my Etsy listings, I've stepped up promoting my listing on Twitter. 

BufferThe mistake I made in the past was not sharing the same tweets enough. Maybe a couple of tweets throughout the same day the item was posted and that's it.  I thought anything more would be spammy. That was foolish.  

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I wasn't adding enough of my personality in my item tweets,  just "NEW! Beaded Red Jade Earrings in the shop! http://blahblahblah" - that's kind of lame.

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It is fun trying to come up with new wording to make my items more interesting. When I do, I got to make sure people actually see it.  My tweet activity is maybe 50 views on average, which is not much.

Buffer is my new favorite tool for scheduling my Etsy/Storenvy shop item tweets.  I can still do this on Hootsuite but I visually like how Buffer lays out up to 10 tweets (I always include an image), or you can "Upgrade To Awesome" - which I'm considering, and add up to 100 posts and tweets and add more accounts including Pinterest.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.34.36 AMEtsy sellers (myself included) complained about the drop in shop views.  Retagging items and rewording titles and description helped, but I really saw a jump when I began scheduling tweets on Buffer between midnight and 6:00 am as well as throughout the day.  Comparing Etsy views from January through April 2014 to this year, my views have doubled!  

Twitter is still my favorite Social Media platform and I'm seeing "buff.ly" referrals surpassing Pinterest as my top referrer for 2015.  That's the other thing, "Twitter" does not show up in Etsy stats as a referrer.  The links you share on Twitter show up as Direct Traffic so you don't know for sure if people are clicking those links.  At least with Buffer, you get a better idea.  

You can schedule your tweets manually or add them to a queue with designated times you set up so your updates go out around the same time.  

Have I mentioned the Analytics feature? While I'm not as concerned about "Follower" numbers, I do like looking at performance statistics for different things. For someone who hates math, I have a thing for numbers!

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 9.52.22 AMThe Analytics tab in Buffer shows the recent updates that went out and how much interaction it had.  It gives you a better idea of what's working and what doesn't.   IFTTT, Hootsuite, and now Buffer are all included in my toolbox of time-management greatness.  What do you like to use? 


Hootsuite: I'm Doing It Wrong!

I've been using HootSuite for a couple of years and it's been a life saver when it comes to scheduling my tweets.  However as I follow more people on Twitter and put more lists together, my Twitter was getting a little out of control.  That is until I read this super informative post from The Loudmouth Lifestyle about blogging time savers and Hootsuite was the main focus.

Hootsuite

To the untrained eye, this may still appear a little overwhelming. I was not taking full advantage of the amount of tabs and streams I could set up.  In addition to my own Twitter account, I also help manage the Twitter account for Hudson Valley Etsy.  Instead of switching between accounts, I just click over a tab. 

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1) My Pulp Sushi Twitter gets it's own tab and there are four columns set up. Each column is it's own "stream".  First is my regular Twitter feed which I would see if I sign in to Twitter on my computer and phone.  The second column is my @mention columns so I don't miss anything.  The third column shows the tweets I sent out, and the fourth are tweets I have scheduled which is my tool for scheduling tweets that promote my shop and blog.  I get to see it all in one screen. 

2) You can follow Hudson Valley Etsy @hvnyteam.  I have same set up for this account as my own account, boom!

3) I have a tab for some of my lists. I have 19 lists, there is no way I am going to have 19 columns on one screen because that's even too much for me.  So I have my four favorite lists set up, it seems like my brain can only handle up to four columns going at once.

4) I only participate in two Twitter chats a week: #ellechat and #blisschat.  They're pretty busy chats and it's hard to keep up so I have a column set up for each hashtag and again for @ mentions because people get chatty and I don't want to accidentally ignore anyone.

5) Facebook is straight forward. It includes my personal feed - which I find is more accurate and true to time than your feed at Facebook.com.  It keeps updates in order.  I also include my Facebook Page feed here too so again, no need to switch around too much.

6) Do you know Pocket?  I have a habit of favoriting tweets that link an article I want to read but then I forget about it.  With Pocket, I can favorite the tweet and it will automatically save the article link in Pocket so I can read the article here. 

7) "Hashtags" is pretty self explanatory.   Whether it's watching #TheWalkingDead or watching Monday Night #RAW, I need a separate tab just to follow hashtags, this changes frequently.

Since I made these changes, I've been spending a lot more time on HootSuite.   Do you use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck for your account management? Isn't is the best? 


Are you a #GIRLBOSS? (Review)

Back with another book review, today I will be talking about #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso. I've seen this book floating around but decided to get into it after seeing several people recommended it in the Being Boss Facebook Group.

#GIRLBOSS

I couldn't put #GIRLBOSS down.  Sophia shares her story of starting her business from scratch with just a couple of vintage clothing items on eBay to growing it into Nasty Gal. She had no idea what she was doing but she kept with it because she really had no other choice, it was hard for her to keep a "real" job for more than a few months, the girl had to live!

Branding has been something I've avoided because I didn't quite get it and people seem to have different definitions of what branding is suppose to be.  She writes about how she came up with the Nasty Gal Vintage name initially and ties it in with the branding of her business. This one paragraph in #GIRLBOSS was probably the most straight forward depiction of how to build a brand I've ever read which made perfect sense. 

The story of Nasty Gal's company growth is pretty mind blowing but hardly glamorous. She really busted her ass and worked for it. She knew there was more to it than posting some listings on the internet and they will come.  She was always working on her listings and scouting for more items to sell. Once she started selling on eBay, her partying was pretty much over.

That is the misconception people have when you work for yourself.  They think you can stop whenever you want to do fun stuff and that's not the case.  They say people who strive to be their own boss will work 16 hour days so they can avoid working 8 hours for someone else.

Sophia went through a lot of jobs but it wasn't because she didn't like to work, she was just doing the wrong kind of work. I can totally relate. I once thought Human Resources was for me but 15 years was enough to kill that noise.  

People change and you grow out of things.  When I started working in Human Resources, I didn't mind people so much lol!  Becoming successful in whatever profession you pursue is about knowing your weakness and playing to your strengths.  Some people don't like working with structure, it's not because they're lazy, their brains just don't work that way.

#GIRLBOSS was a quick and easy read but still full of useful insight of what you should know about when going on a job interview, how to write your cover-letter, and how to look for an investor when you're ready for that step. We all have it in us to be a #GIRLBOSS and this book gives us the tools on how to start. 


E-Book Review: 75 Ways To Help Your Brand Stand Out

As I mentioned recently, my Kindle and I have been getting close through all my e-library borrowing and e-book downloading.  Today I wanted to share with you an e-book I recently read that I think lots of my blog buddies and fellow small businesses can benefit from. 

75_brand

Are you familiar with ByRegina.com? If not, then you should be! I absolutely love reading her blog.  Her role in my life (and yours, you just don't know it yet), is to help you be the best creative entrepreneur you can be whether your business is blogging, online store, or a service you provide. 

The word "Brand" gets thrown around so much now that I don't think people understand just what exactly branding means.  I admit that for a long time I didn't know and didn't bothered to know. That was foolish of me so I'm getting my act together almost 10 years later.  

Once you have a grasp of what your brand is, Regina lays out SEVENTY FIVE ways to make it stand out and she covers the whole shebangity-bang.  From updating your blog's "About" page, organizing your social media accounts to understanding your web analytics. She provides several tools to get your act together when it comes to gathering data from your target audience and customers.  If you want to be serious about your business, this is the kind of work you also need to get into unless you're filthy rich and can hire someone to do it for you.

You can get this book for free, yes FREE!  When you sign up for her email list at byregina.com, it's her gift to you.   She has a very insightful blog too if you are wishing to grow your blog audience and make money from your blog. You can also follow her on Twitter @byReginaTV .


Loving Lately - Joyful Hearts Culturally Inspired Tea

I have tried and tried to get into drinking tea with no luck. Even when I'm sick and my throat is soar, I would make some tea and it would just taste like dirty hot water. What's the big deal with tea?!?!?

I watched a show recently on The Cooking Channel about Caffeine (woohoo). Then they got to talking about tea. I've known about the health benefits of drinking tea, yadda yadda yadda, but it was still just hot dirty water. Then they spoke about Chai tea. I really like Chai Spice Lattes from Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts but I know it's hardly the same.  Anyway, this show sold me and decided to give tea another shot.

When I decide to try something, I hit up Facebook for suggestions and my FB friends usually come through.  I've known Lisa Fu from Pretty Stationery For Beautiful Souls for several years, back in the day when I was a member of the New York Etsy Team.   She recently launched a new business Joyful Hearts - Culturally Inspired Beverages and she offered to hook me up.  Hook me up she did!!!

Tea

I was expecting Lisa to send me to send some extra tea bags from her personal stash, I had no idea she started another business and Joyful Hearts was her baby! The shop just opened in January 2015.  What a treat! I received a bag of Sangeet Swculeet Vanilla Chai, Peppermint Herbal Tea, Golden Assam, and Genmai Cha.

First I tried the Golden Assam Indian Loose Leaf Black Tea with milk and sugar one morning as she suggest it's good for energy.  You really get the rich flavor of the tea after you let it sit 3-5 minutes.  The Sweet Vanilla Chai took a little longer as it came as loose spices and not in packets but if you follow the instructions on the packet, it's well worth the wait...

Tea1

She has so many great flavors I'm curious about trying like Cranberry, Coconut, Sweet Almond to name a few.  You can check out her selection at culturallyinspired.etsy.com

I also picked up a box of Stash's Chai Spice which I like to have in the afternoon when I start work. :) 

Loving Lately

My oatmeal was pretty darn good too. It's becoming one of my favorite things to eat.  

Are you a tea drinker? What's your favorite tea to drink?


Say Hello to ALOHA

A part of being on this fitness kick is I have to be mindful of what I put in my body. I'm not big on energy drinks and most protein stuff scares me. Recently while going through my daily blog reads, there was not one but TWO blogs that mentioned ALOHA chocolates and protein powder.

First off, I like the name, it's not pretentious sounding and "jockish". So I check it out, and I really liked their vibe, it's a gorgeous web site.  They keep their mission and goal simple - help everyone live a happy and healthier life. Ok I tried a sample pack...

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I got four packets of their Premium Protein powder, two chocolate, two vanilla.  The difference between this powder and other protein powders is Aloha is vegan, gluten-free.  There are no dyes, sweeteners, natural and artificial flavors, artificial colors, maltodextrin or fillers of any kind.  Just stripped down natural goodness. 

I first tried Vanilla as a drink.  I just mixed it with ice water & 2% milk.  It was a good excuse to use my adult sippy cup.  I'm no protein powder drink expert but this was pretty good and filling. The next day I tried the Vanilla in my oatmeal, not so good, I better stick to drinking. 

I liked the Chocolate just a little more which is weird because usually Vanilla is my favorite but in this case, I was digging the chocolate.  I am not a Dark Chocolate fan so I was worried this would taste like it but nope. It tasted so natural and not sugary sweet.

Chocolate it is! I placed another order....

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This will tie me over for a bit.  The powder is very fine and all you need is two scoops for a 16 oz drink.  I will have it for either breakfast or lunch and it's enough to tie me over without feeling heavy or sluggish.  Between drinking this and keeping up my exercising, I've been feeling pretty good.  

If you want to check them out, they also have Chocolate Bars, Nutrient Packs, greens for smoothies and more.  Their "Discovery KIt" is a good place to start.  Aloha!! 

This is not a sponsored post, I purchased these items and am not being compensated for this post.  I just wanted to share the love. :)  The links are affilate links so if you decide to check them out, I do get a little credit. 


Favorite Instagrams To Follow

Favorite InstagramsTo Follow

Out of all the super hot social media platforms, Instagram continues to grow and has beat out Facebook and Twitter in popularity amongst the young folk. I love it! I didn't know what I was doing with it at first but it's now something I look at several times a day.  Today I wanted to show off some of my favorite Instagram accounts, not to say I don't enjoy them all, otherwise I wouldn't follow them.

Before I do that, I wanted to share some thoughts I had while preparing this post.  One of those thoughts was: 

I need to step up my Instagram game!!

Seriously!  It's great to promote your items and share your life but whoa, it can get a little bit crazy. At least it did for me. I got a little bit of everything going on with a link to my Etsy shop and a mention that I  make jewelry in my profile.  Sure, I want to gain more followers on Instagram because you're instantly in everyone's pocket (on their phone) and people check their phones more than their computers. 

One thing that these IG favorties have in common is consistency with their images which may be why I'm so drawn to them.  I can go through my feed and identify who the image is from without looking at the name.   If Instagram is not a good test on branding, I don't know what is!  Let's take a closer look....

Favorite Instagram Picks - Part 1I love Everyday Is A Holiday and their throwback art catering to the sweet tooth when people didn't care about organic, gluten-free bullshit.  Their overall color scheme has always been soft pink and teal or super light blue - all the way down to Jenny's hair! You can see more @jennyeveryday

Favorite Instagram Picks - Part 1I don't follow any big box companies on Instagram except for Lowe's, yeah that's right - a store I hardly ever go in to, not because I have beef with Lowe's, it's just because there's a Home Depot just 5 minutes away. Anyway, I first noticed Lowe's cool promotion on Pinterest and discovered that their Instagram was just as pretty after Victoria from SF Girl By Bay was guest Instagrammer for them not too long ago.  Take a look at their pretties @loweshomeimprovement

Favorite Instagram Picks - Part 1I first met Rebecca Peacock when I was doing the Bazaar-on-Hudson market in Cold Spring.  Her jewelry is so elegant, classy, and "casually luxurious" (her words) and her images reflect that in tone and setting.  You can see more @rebecca_peacock

Favorite Instagram Picks - Part 1One of my favorite shirts to wear is from The Stay Home Club.  Funny enough, I learned about their business through a Instagram giveaway (I didn't win).  Great product and customer appreciation photos, plus regular giveaways.  Follow them @stayhomeclubofficial

Favorite Instagram Picks - Part 1Yay Nguyen! From her needle-felt eyeball ornaments to embroidered animal pendants, this girl's work is flawless.   Her IG is a perfect mix of promotion, behind the scenes and just living life to the fullest.  Follow along @knitknitetsy.

Do you have an Instagram account? Do you use it to promote your business/blog? Or is just for personal amusement? 


Blogger's Block: Let's Talk Facial Care!

My creative process can get a little tapped out at the end of the year with all the craziness that goes on.  Yet there's still that nudge that wants to write about SOMETHING on my blog. Today I'm gonna do something a little different and write about skincare which I don't think I've done since I wrote my Lush review

My face sucks! I have super annoying skin where it gets dry in the Winter and oily in the Summer with some blotchiness around my cheekbones.  I don't wear a lot of make-up so I neglected taking care of my face for a long time other than splashing some water on it and using random soap.  

As I get older, I get more self-conscious about my appearance and showing my age. We all want to look youthful and healthy, not weathered and tired.  For a few years I've been trying to figure out what works for me, tried a lot of stuff that I wasn't happy with. I need instant gratification and I think I found it. 

FaceI've heard nothing but good things about Kiehl's products but let's face it, it can be a little pricy and if I can't grab it at CVS, I might pass it over.  That was my attitude before but sometimes it's worth paying a little extra for the GOOD stuff. Kiehl's Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser is on point!  You feel the cleaner working as soon as you apply it without that burning feeling and leaves my skin feeling fresh and new once I rinse it off.  I need to check out their Toner some time.  But in the meantime, the cleanser is enough as long as I follow up with moisturizer. 

I learned about Simple Hydrating Light Moisturizer through my previous job.  We would get free samples so I grabbed a bunch before I left.  When they say "Light" they mean it. I don't like that greasy feeling afterward especially if you're in a rush and you need to get the makeup on quick or if you're getting ready for bed. It has no dyes or perfumes.  I also have their Night Cream which I sometimes forget to use.  

I've been using both for a couple of weeks and already see and feel a difference with my face and I couldn't be happier.  Do you have a good cocktail of product you use for your face? 

 


Holiday Visit With TheBouqs.com

Pulp Sushi loves TheBouqs.com

It's so nice to have some pretty flowers to look at while you work. I use to buy flowers for myself more when I was working in the city. There is a flower stand in Grand Central that always had pretty flowers you can just grab and go while getting to your train.  Those days are over, but when I was contacted by TheBouqs.com about checking out their service, I thought "Sweet!!!"

I picked their Dawn bouquet because something about the colors of the roses made me think of my favorite color shade of fall, remember this picture I shared last month?  Same colors am I right? 

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They have a special going on right now for Fall and Thanksgiving - just send at least two bouquets to friends and family and get $10 off your next order. It's a great option if you have friends or family you won't be able to see during the holidays to let them know you're still thinking of them.

*This post contains affilate links.  If you click on a affiliate link and make a purchase, I may get a commission from that purchase.