03/16/17 10:59am

We all spend a lot of time in the bathroom, managing (what might be seen as) embarrassing fluids, hairs and smells. Here’s a roundup of items to make your personal daily and monthly rituals more convenient, productive and all-natural. You might be surprised by the updates to your favorite bathroom gadgets and products, and how they’ll simplify your life and de-stigmatize what happens behind the bathroom door.

This toilet stool will change the way you poop, although it won't make unicorn flavored ice cream. Photo: Squatty Potty

This toilet stool will change the way you poop, although it won’t actually deliver a unicorn to your door. Photo: Squatty Potty

Squatty Potty ($29-$99)

One of the best things about the squatty potty is the commercial. The ad wiz who came up with this campaign compared a good bowel movement to soft serve unicorn ice cream. (Genius!) They claim that this toilet stool will change the way you poop. I was interested, but dubious. I ordered the basic 7” Ecco model ($29), and was immediately happy with how space saving it is; it fit snugly around the toilet when not in use. In terms of aesthetics, there are upscale models to match any decor including a $99 clear ghost version, but I’m happy with the basic white.

In terms of actual use it’s not like you need a flexible yoga squat to make this work. Just like a little foot stool for your throne, the squatty potty helps to correct your form for that important daily delivery. At first my family was bewildered, but within a few days of use, we all quickly came to love it. After you’ve finished your business, you actually feel cleared out. The stool works, and begs the question: how have we been living without it for so long? And who designed toilets anyway? A converted friend of mine says she refuses to go without one. When she’s in a public restroom now, she has “to kick over a garbage and put my feet on it.” There is a $29 travel version, should you become as completely converted and refuse to vacation without a plan for efficient evacuation. Once you’ve had the best poop of your life, it’s impossible to go back. (more…)

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03/15/17 2:13pm
We were all expecting more snow yesterday, even Hurley. Photo: Kate Hooker via @BrooklynBased on Instagram

We were all expecting more snow yesterday, even Hurley. Photo: Kate Hooker via @BrooklynBased on Instagram

Back to the grind, everybody! One of the awesome conveniences of modern life is that for the majority of us who aren’t ER doctors or something, there’s no longer any need to brave angry sheets of falling ice to physically be in the office on a day like yesterday. The bummer side of this, though, is that the notion of a true snow day has gone completely out the window.

I personally logged something like 16 hours in front of my laptop yesterday, breaking only to walk my dog and to watch one eensy episode of Love on Netflix, the second season of which I’ve been inhaling. Today I feel more burnt out than I would have if I’d just had a normal day yesterday that included a subway commute, lunch with a friend and a stop at the gym, and I’m moving at a glacial pace. Gotta find some espresso somewhere though, maybe at the Coffee and Tea Festival happening in Greenpoint this weekend, because this Ideal Week is action-packed and I don’t have time to dawdle.

First of all, I have to fill out three different brackets for various March Madness pools before noon tomorrow, and I know less about the field this season than I ever have (although I did have the amazing opportunity to watch my beloved Blue Devils win the ACC championship IN BROOKLYN (!) last weekend, complete with NC-appropriate ad signage at the Barclays). I also need to make St. Patrick’s Day plans which, depending on my end-of-the-week mental state, will either mean hightailing it out of the city, or finding a way to get into the center of the action.

And then of course we’re hosting one of our favorite events of the year, Wedding Crashers, on Sunday at The Green Building and 501 Union from 11:30 am on. This year, we’ve got more than 70 of New York’s best wedding vendors and seven bands performing, so there’s a lot to see and take in if you’re planning on stopping by.

In other news, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. is hosting a five-course prix fixe Italian dinner tonight for $45 if you ate every scrap of the food you had at home yesterday, and Eugene Mirman has announced a live recording of his Hold On podcast featuring guests David Cross and Jon Benjamin at The Bell House on Saturday, April 8. This will for sure sell out so you should pick up a $20 ticket for yourself pronto. Otherwise, take a gander at our suggestions to help you maximize your fun quotient in the Ideal Week ahead. (more…)

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03/15/17 8:12am

Kids having fun

Join the A Child Grows in Brooklyn community for the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Camp Expo, March 26, 2017, from 12pm to 3pm at Williamsburg Northside Lower School (299 N. 7th Street),  presented by A Child Grows in Brooklyn.

This is a FREE family-friendly event for parents looking for summer camps, holiday camps and after-school programs for their children. Over 30 camp and after school program directors will be onsite to talk to parents about all the wonderful things their programs have to offer local families.

Capacity is limited, so please be sure to register!

NOTE: Face painting and kids crafts will keep kids busy while parents speak with camps, AND Brooklyn Robot Foundry will provide FREE 45-minute Robot Building Workshops for kids ages 5+ at 12:15, 1:00 & 1:45. To sign up your child for one of these workshops, please click here.

03/14/17 5:24pm

Let me be blunt for a moment. All those delicious Pi Day pies and snow day stews aside, this is the worst time of year for cooking. Late winter and early spring are a challenge in in the kitchen. The chicken pot pies, roasted vegetables and bean soups I was so excited to make in October feel heavy and boring now, and it’s going to be more than a few weeks before the first spring edibles show up at the farmer’s market.

We’re in luck though, fellow cooks. A new book came out today that will help get us all over the hump and into nettle, asparagus and pea season.

Vibrant India, Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn is the first cookbook from Chitra Agrawal, cook, writer and owner of Brooklyn Delhi. She wrote a great guide to eating all over the subcontinent by taking a day trip to Edison and Iselin, N.J. for us a few years back, and if you’ve always wanted to try your hand at cooking South Asian food, but have never quite been able to make sense of all the spice roasting and grinding, this is the book for you.

Agrawal’s recipes are not the heavy butter chicken and saag paneer type fare–which is generally Northern Indian in origin–that often represents Indian cuisine in the U.S. In the foreword she explains that her cooking is very much informed by the vegetarian cuisine of South India, Bangalore specifically, which is based around rice, beans, pulses, fresh vegetables and spices like mustard seed, hing and tumeric.

What does South India have to do with late winter cooking?

Many of the recipes in Vibrant India are variations on rice and dal, which are not just hearty, durable, winter fare, they’re also fragrantly spiced and lush with coconut, ghee and curry leaves. This combination of new flavors and cooking techniques is sure to hold your attention until the farmer’s market is full of ingredients for her spiced spring vegetable and coconut polenta recipe.

I’ve tried to wrap my head around how to build up a pantry of spices and the techniques for cooking Indian dishes at home several times, never with much luck. There are several South Asian cookbooks on my shelf and I’ve never prepared a single dish from any of them. I get overwhelmed by planning what to make, gathering the ingredients and understanding the techniques. This book feels so much more accessible and easy to understand than my past forays into subcontinental cooking. (more…)

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03/14/17 3:31pm

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Throwing a spectacular, 80-person wedding in Brooklyn for anything less than $40,000 is a feat. (That’s the low-end, average price of hosting your nuptials here–The Knot estimates the cost is closer to $60,000.) Throwing a wedding here for $14,000 is a bit of a miracle. But Laura Dolce-Bun, a teacher, and Mey Dolce-Bun, a farmer, managed with the help of talented friends and a lot of hands-on planning.

Of course, not everyone has a wedding photographer friend they can ask to shoot their weddings, as Laura and Mey did. Their connections at their venue helped, too, but they rented it at an opportune time when it was just getting started. Any couple can do this and expect to save money, as brand-new or soon-to-open venues often discount their prices to fill the calendar quickly and get cash flowing.

Laura and Mey also kept costs down by doing a lot of the work that a caterer would typically do, like arranging for the rentals of tables, seating and dinnerware, procuring all the meat, produce and alcohol themselves, and asking friends to bartend.

Even if you don’t intend to go DIY like they did, their tips, particularly for savoring the moments of a day you’ve spent a year planning, are worth heeding. Here’s how planned their October 2016 Williamsburg wedding. (more…)

03/13/17 9:29am
The beet burger at 61 Local is the work of veggie mastermind, Lukas Volger. Photo: Local 61

The beet burger at 61 Local is the work of veggie mastermind, Lukas Volger. Photo: Local 61

If you eat animal protein, there’s generally little reason (if any) to opt for a veggie burger instead of a luscious patty of ground beef. That said, veggie burgers can be delicious in their own right, if you know where to go, and from David Chang’s so-meaty-it-bleeds veggie burger, to Superiority Burger in the East Village which New York Times food critic Pete Wells referred to as “Shake Shack for vegetarians,” they’re really having a moment. (Cara Nicoletti, a butcher at Foster Sundry in Bushwick just did a video for Vice Munchies on how to make them at home, if you’d prefer to stay in for your veggie fix.)

For the most part, these burgers are best considered as unique food items. A chicken sandwich or a falafel are not the same as a burger, and you wouldn’t hold their lack of beefy heft against them. Same here. We picked six of our favorite veggie burgers in Brooklyn–these sandwiches can stand their own, we promise!

For the beet lover: 61 Local

In Cobble Hill, 61 Local serves up local foods and good vibes. The restaurant’s menu features a delicious and earthy beet burger made with chef Lukas Volger’s special blend. (Volger, a former employee and now the owner of the brand Made by Lukas, developed the recipe while working at 61 Local.) The patty is topped with pickled red onions, miso “mayo,” baby greens and ketchup and served on a ciabatta roll.

61 Bergen St., Cobble Hill


For the milkshake drinker: Dutch Boy

Burgers and milkshakes go together like…fries and ketchup, peanut butter and jelly, pickle juice and whiskey shots. Dutch Boy in Crown Heights is as well known for its spiked milkshakes as it is its burgers and so we had to include them on this list. The veggie burger here is house-made and distinctly simple, but for two reasons we love it. One, it’s served with chipotle aioli, which delivers a heat-packed punch and two, you can (and should) wash it down with a root beer schnapps-spiked milkshake.

766 Franklin Ave., Crown Heights (more…)

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03/09/17 11:37am

Moovn Apps

On January 28, the hashtag #DeleteUber started trending with a vengeance. Following the announcement of the Trump administration’s executive order declaring a travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, NYC taxi drivers went on strike, declaring a one-hour work stoppage at JFK  in protest of the ban. At the same time, Uber announced that it would suspend surge pricing at the airport, which many saw not as a consumer service, but as an attempt to profit from the strike, and from the ban. For many already uneasy users it was the last straw for a company whose CEO was then still on Trump’s Business Council.

That same weekend Lyft, Uber’s rival in the ride-sharing game, announced that they would make a $1 million donation to the ACLU, and got a boatload of new customers out of the controversy. However, Lyft still counts Carl Icahn and Peter Thiel, two of Trump’s biggest richest supporters, as members of their board. Both companies have grappled with reputations for treating drivers poorly and for bro-centric work cultures.

Socially-conscious riders eager for an alternative have started turning to Moovn, a new ride-sharing app that prides itself on a no-surge-pricing policy for customers, as well as better wages and stronger protections for drivers. It’s also a tech business with a black founder, which is important to note as the disruption game is notoriously white.

“We put the driver first,” said Godwin Gabriel, founder and CEO, in a phone interview. “As long as we do, he or she will go the extra mile for the customer…the driver is our biggest stakeholder.” He sees other platforms as “pushing the driver to the curb.”

Gabriel went to say, “Drivers are getting paid well on our platform. We only take a 10-15 commission…we are looking at going even lower. At any time, the driver maintains 85-90% of the fare, not including tip. You hear all of these issues about drivers being disenfranchised, marginalized. They don’t earn enough on other platforms.” For lack of a better word, Gabriel explained, many drivers told him it was like “modern day slavery.” (more…)

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03/07/17 1:36pm

Gemini and Scorpio

So we’re changing things up a bit this week and dispatching our Wednesday Ideal Week post on Tuesday, because we won’t be publishing anything tomorrow in honor of the A Day Without A Woman strike. Onward in solidarity, sisters–only by sticking together will we vanquish the small-minded demagoguery that seeks to inflame our prejudices and create dissension within our ranks. If you’re not able to actually skip work tomorrow, there are other ways to raise your voice in support of the cause, including wearing red, attending a rally like this one at noon in Central Park, and making a commitment to not spend any money.

After a day of empowering yourself through political action, you might want to hurry over to Crown Heights on Wednesday evening to see the series premiere of Locality, a new hyperlocal web series created in and about the neighborhood by a group of filmmakers called The New Regulars. The screening starts at 8pm and will be followed by a reception with wine and local eats–you can register here to attend. In other news, Groupmuse just today announced its next Massivemuse, which will happen on Friday, March 17, in The Bogart House. Tickets are $20, which includes the concert, Bronx Brewery beers on the house, and afterparty involving multiple DJs and a roof deck.

Turning back to the week ahead, there are plenty of ways you can fill the next several days with food, fun, film, feminism, and more stuff that begins with letters other than F. Happy Ideal Week, and we’ll see you next week on the regularly appointed day. (more…)

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03/06/17 2:18pm
Photo: Georgia Kral

Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem | Photo: Georgia Kral

Good. Simple. Made by thoughtful people. These are the criteria that come into play in nearly every facet of the operation at Ops, from the local, farm-fresh ingredients, to the rotating natural wine list, to the ethos of the place.

Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem opened this petite and homey spot next to Variety Coffee in Bushwick, in October of 2016. It’s quickly become a neighborhood restaurant where locals converge for pizza, salads and meat and cheese plates. The centerpiece is the wood-burning oven, sparkling with colorful blue tiles behind the rustic bar.

The pizza is different at Ops, too. Fadem makes it with sourdough, which he lovingly tends to and feeds twice a day.

“We wanted it to be like a classic pizzeria,” Fadem said. “People can’t get enough of pizza.”

The pair wanted a restaurant that was both welcoming and inviting.

“That’s why we do everything ourselves,” Tribouilloy said. “We have a relationship with the customers. We’re both here and on the floor.” (more…)

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03/02/17 1:23pm

I need to be the adult here and break it to you, someone does. Just because it was 70 last week does not mean that summer starts at the end of the month. We still have a ways to go before the glorious outdoor movies and free concerts of summer are here. Until then, you’ll have to make do with some excellent art, scary theater, absorbing new books and the return of the best show on television.

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10. The Terrifying

Everything about The Terrifying, a new play written and directed by Obie-winner Julia Jarcho sounds, well, terrifying. It’s an intimate theater experience for just 60 guests who are seated on the stage “close enough to hear a faint whisper.” The setting is described as a “creepy little village on the cusp of modernity” and there’s a warning about strong language and sudden loud noises. We’ll be reviewing so check back for the full scoop on just how scary The Terrifying really is. The show runs from March 12-April 2 at the Arbons Arts Center, and tickets are $25.


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9. Art on Paper, March 3-5
As the name would suggest, Art on Paper is a giant show devoted to art committed to paper, like drawings, prints and photos. It’s also home to an incredibly inventive collection of three-dimensional work constructed with paper and some video work as well. The show is held on Pier 36 in Manhattan, March 3-5 (with a preview on March 2), and with participating galleries around the city. A pass costs $25 for a day, $30 for three days, and $40 if you want access during the preview as well. (more…)

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