The New York Mycological Society

There are strict rules about foraging anything in state parks and city parks. The laws aren’t clear at all, so it’s always best to ask someone more experienced. Whenever we go picking mushrooms, we bring a towel/picnic blanket to drape over the basket just in case.

We have finally gotten a taste of some good weather so I started researching one of my favorite topics: mushrooms! I grew up picking mushrooms in Europe which is completely different than doing it in New York. First of all, in Europe, Czech Republic in particular, mushroom picking is a popular sport! Second of all, the mushroom season is only 2-3 months long.

In New York it’s completely different! First of all, almost no one picks mushrooms. This is true for New York City as well as the state, most Americans in general seem too scared to pick mushrooms! Also, mushroom hunting season here is practically all year round. However, prime mushroom picking time is from April until October.

Coming from a country where you have to wake up at 5 AM after a rainy day to find a single mushroom that hasn’t already been picked by the hordes of hungry mushroom hunters. The first mushroom I ever found in New York was found in plain sight on a very busy path in a New York City park… that got me researching.

Even if you know something about picking mushrooms in Europe or Asia, you can’t just apply the same knowledge in a new place. There are lookalike mushrooms that can be edible in one country and poisonous in the other. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a mycological society. If you’re in New York, I recommend the New York Mycological Society!

They have a website and a Facebook Page where members (and non members) can learn about mushroom types and join on mushroom hunting expeditions for just $5, unless you become a member for $15 annually ($25 for a family). The group consists of experts, some experienced mushroom pickers and many newbies.

They also don’t focus on picking edible mushrooms, they like to explore and identify mushrooms of all sorts! I joined for a walk through a cemetery in the Bronx, where we split up, picked mushrooms and met at the end to examine all of our findings. It was a lot of fun and very educational!

A mycological society can also help explain the laws regarding mushroom picking in the area that you are in. I was surprised that there are so many rules in America about literally everything. Isaac got a fine once for being in a park when it has snowed, despite there being no signs about it.

There are strict rules about foraging anything in state parks and city parks. The laws aren’t clear at all, so it’s always best to ask someone more experienced. Whenever we go picking mushrooms, we bring a towel/picnic blanket to drape over the basket just in case.

Starting this weekend, I will start going on hikes hoping to find oyster mushrooms that grow all year round! But the moment it gets warm and rainy, everything else will sprout too. I just can’t wait!

Do you love mushroom picking? Share your favorite mushroom stories int he comments below!

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One World Trade Observatory: New York City

The new One World Trade center is an amazing building, not one because of its architecture but because of its history. It is the tallest building in the USA and has one of the best views of New York City! The observatory has a unique view of the bay and even New Jersey. The best time to go here is right before sunrise to see it during the day and at night!

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Free Coffee in NYC: Pret A Manger

In case you were wondering, yes, they do have pumpkin spice lattes that can be vegan or not! There’s nothing basic about enjoying some pumpkin spice in the fall time! *glares at haters*

New York City is known for being expensive! We have lived here since August and I can confirm this, however, there are ways to visit or live here on a budget. One thing that we have done, is traded in Starbucks for a much better coffee chain Pret a Manger.

Not only is the coffee here delicious and cheaper than at other chains. They give you a free first coffee and they had a great card that rewards you for your loyalty. This card is digital and you can use it through your their app. You can also save your payment information which allows you to pay by scanning your unique barcode directly from your phone.

Although you will often come in to Pret and see a long line of people, the line will move at lightning speed. This is because they only make fancy coffees for you and if you want a regular coffee, you can pour it yourself! They have a cute little coffee bar with four options: decaf and three different brews as well as several kinds of milk, including nut-based dairy-free milks! Of course there’s also sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.

So basically, you come in, scan your barcode, pick a size and you do the rest yourself. No one gets the chance to mess up your order and you are in an out as quickly as you need. Of course, you can also bring your own thermos to illuminate plastic waste and you are welcome to hang out in their seating area for as long as you want.

In case you were wondering, yes, they do have pumpkin spice lattes that can be vegan or not! There’s nothing basic about enjoying some pumpkin spice in the fall time! *glares at haters*

Check it out:

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Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan, NYC

The highlight of the day for me was two dogs, a husky and a golden retriever dressed in traditional golden Chinese lion uniforms. Just like the ones that are worn for the lion dance!

Yesterday, on February 17th, we went to see the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown! As you may already know, Isaac and I lived in China for two years before moving to New York. We ended up going to the parade with a friend who we met in Shanghai! It was the first time we saw her since we had payday sushi and it was great to see her!

Our friend had actually been to this parade before so she convinced us to meet her for brunch at Jing Fong at 10:00. We thought it was ridiculous to meet so early when the parade didn’t start until 13:00, but she just said to trust her and we’re glad we did!

The brunch at Jing Fong was interesting. You need to keep in mind that we didn’t enjoy our time in China as much as our friend, so while she thrived in the chaos of Chinese waiters yelling and carts of mystery food rolling by, we felt like we were back in a place we didn’t love. Also, although the official menu had a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, this dim sum brunch did not.

So even though we were less than two blocks from our favorite vegan dim sum place, we were stuck eating the same two overpriced dishes, one of which was a dessert. It wasn’t the best experience but if you’re a meat eater and want to enjoy a new culture, I think you’d like this place!

The way ordering works, is that everyone gets a ticket – sometimes there will be several groups of people at one table if it’s crowded. We had two older Chinese gentlemen sitting with us which was interesting. When the carts come by, you can take plates of food and they will stamp your ticket in the correct category: small, medium, large, special, etc. Each category has a set price that is tallied up at the end.

Just like in China, not everyone at Jing Fong speak Chinese. It was really difficult for us to communicate with them to find out if things were vegan or not. Even though Isaac speaks basic Chinese! It also took 20 people to explain that we wanted two separate tickets for our group – even the two men sitting with us got involved in explaining what we want. This was a typical problem for us in China – simple things became a huge ordeal to explain and solve.

We left the restaurant after about an hour – when we first got there, it was only half full. On our way out, there were hordes of people standing in a line out the door. When we got out onto the street to find a spot to watch the parade, it was no different. There were already thousands of people standing and waiting for a parade that wouldn’t start for two more hours!

It was lucky we came early, although we did had another friend who came out at noon and he managed to find an ok spot to watch from as well. But if you want a guaranteed great spot to watch from, definitely come early. The earlier the better!

As for the parade itself, I wasn’t too impressed but I may be a little jaded. There were many impressive dragons that got better the later it got. Those and the lion dancers were amazing. But like all parades in New York, in between the cool performers were people campaigning and I hate that every parade is so political.

The police department performed too and that part was great, but I could have done without all the boring stuff in between! If you haven’t been to Chinatown or New York before, you may not know this, but most police officers in Chinatown are Chinese or of Chinese descent, which is really cool!

So this was our third parade in New York. The other two we had experienced were the Caribbean and Halloween parades and they both had similar boring political fillers in between the cool stuff. I guess they don’t get the necessary funds without agreeing to include these? I’m not really sure to be honest.

All in all, the Chinese New Year Parade was interesting to see. I definitely recommend seeing it at least once, especially if you haven’t been to China and want to experience the culture a little. The crowds to get in an out are also very authentic, and if you think being smushed by crowds of people is unique to New York, don’t be fooled and read about my description of my daily rush hour commutes in Shanghai!

The highlight of the day for me was two dogs, a husky and a golden retriever dressed in traditional golden Chinese lion uniforms. Just like the ones that are worn for the lion dance! Did you get to see the parade? Tell me about your favorite part in the comments below.

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$2.75 Ferry Ride with a View: Rockaway Beach to Manhattan – NYC

Why overpay for a crowded cruise full of tourists when you can take a $2.75 (regular MTA fair) ferry ride!

Why overpay for a crowded cruise full of tourists when you can take a $2.75 (regular MTA fair) ferry ride! It takes about an hour and the views are spectacular. As you can see in the video below, it can get a little windy but sometimes there’s a rainbow waiting for you!

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Last Firework Display of Summer 2018: Coney Island, NYC

In the summer you can experience fireworks on Coney Island every Friday as long as the weather is good. We only managed to go on the last day and we’re assuming these fireworks were extra special because they can’t be this good every Friday!

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Luna Park in Coney Island, NYC

Luna Park adventure at Coney Island, NYC!

It’s still cold outside but warm weather is coming. I repeat: Warm. Weather. Is. Coming! There are so many fun things that we’re all dying to do when we don’t need to wear our ski coats and fuzzy socks just go cross the street to the local bodega. One of the things I’m excited to do is go down to the beach and maybe visit Coney Island!

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Jane’s Carousel: 100 Years in NYC

For $2, you can ride a 100 year old carousel with a view of New York City!

We moved to New York City this past August. Before looking for an apartment or job hunting, we dived head first into exploring and local travel! We ran into Jane’s Carousel accidentally while enjoying the views of the city from Brooklyn’s Dumbo.  For only $2 we could ride this historic carousel. Who said that carousels are just for children?

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Drizly Review: Alcohol Deliveries within the Hour

We placed the order and then we waited… but not for long. Within a minute the order was processed, boxed and out for delivery! Only half an hour later we got a phone call that the wine was here. We just had to show some ID proving we were over 21 (which we unfortunately are) and the wine was ours! 

Yesterday was a cold, lazy Friday night after a long week of work. Isaac and I really wanted a bottle of wine to go with the pizza that we ordered online on Grub Hub but we didn’t want to brave the outdoors for alcohol, so we finally tried Drizly.

This app that promises alcohol deliveries within an hour also happened to have a great selection for reasonable prices. There is a $19 minimum so we got 2 bottles of Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon for just over $20 including tax and tip. Before ordering, Isaac tried Retail Me Not, an app that claims to find you coupons/discounts on things.

We were skeptical that it would work on another obscure app like Drizly, but to our surprise, we got a $5 discount on the already cheap wine with free delivery! It was all too good to believe.

We placed the order and then we waited… but not for long. Within a minute the order was processed, boxed and out for delivery! Only half an hour later we got a phone call that the wine was here. We just had to show some ID proving we were over 21 (which we unfortunately are) and the wine was ours!

Our first experience with Drizly was great and we will definitely be trying it again. Previously, we had tried to use it to buy some almond Baileys, which isn’t commonly sold in stores and that was more difficult. It was being sold for $6 more than average and shipping was $10. But if you’re in a pinch then it’s a great option even with the extra cost.

I definitely recommend you to try it out and feel free to post how it went in the comment section below. Cheers!

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